I applaud Damon Hill’s decision to leave Formula One. He will do so with dignity intact and a ratio of wins to starts more impressive than all but a handful of drivers. Moreover I admire the candour with which he has explained his retirement. It cannot be easy to go on prime-time television and volunteer that your driving is “not pretty” when any number of more convenient, if less honest, excuses would have been taken by colleagues of lesser calibre. All I hope is that now he is retired from F1 he stays that way. Hill’s problem is without solution; at 38, he is too old for Formula One and it is now time for him to rest on his copious and well-earned laurels. Still, he should find comfort in the fact that he retires from the top level having achieved more than any he leaves behind save Schumacher; this despite the fact that when Damon was the age Michael is now, he was a year away from his Grand Prix debut.
On a matter entirely unrelated to this month’s cover story and, indeed, even to MOTOR SPORT, I happened to spend a day with Jody Scheckter last week. I had been asked by my old employer, our sister magazine Autocar, to judge a driving competition between 17 drivers ranging from Lotus test drivers to the aforementioned former Ferrari World Champion. It will not be spoiling secrets or revealing results to say each was asked to execute a manoeuvre which required nothing more than two acts of devastating car control, one in a road car, one in a racer.
What I will say is that, of all the drivers there that day, it would have been easiest for Jody to conclude that it was he who had by far the most to lose, and to decline Autocar‘s invitation. Happily fur us, Scheckter did not see it that way. He appeared at the appointed time at the track, chatted amiably with the other drivers while waiting his turn and duly did his stuff. And it was by having least of all to prove but coming anyway that, in my eyes and all results aside, he proved the most.
The next issue of MOTOR SPORT will be, we hope, rather special. Not only will it come complete with a supplement dedicated to the return of the greatest event in historic motor racing, the Goodwood Revival Meeting, but it will also carry a free Compact Disc on which have been professionally recorded the sounds of some of the greatest (and noisiest) cars ever to race at the Sussex circuit, from the BRM V16 to Ferrari 250 GTO.
Next month will also see changes to the magazine which will transform the way it looks and feels in future. There will be better paper inside, while a fundamental change to the way we bind the magazine will not only make it look much better, it will also last much, much longer.