Damon Hill’s announcement last month that he would retire from Formula One at the end of the year came as no surprise, but his decision to quit with immediate effect following his poor showing in the French Grand Prix did.
Now as we go to press, and after much behind-the-scenes wrangling, it appears that Eddie Jordan and his sponsors have persuaded the 1996 World Champion to compete in the British Grand Prix.
While Hill denies he ever intended to miss the Silverstone race and apologised for “a reasonable degree of shenanigans”, his appearance will appease his fans and suppliers of D Hill merchandise. Nevertheless it has not gone down well with some drivers. Eddie Irvine was critical of the move.
“I don’t feel he [Hill] has done it in very classy style,” said the Ferrari driver. “He should have turned up, put in three demonstration laps in a road car and quit. If you look at his performances up to now – what’s the point? If you have made up your mind to retire, you should do what Niki Lauda did – walk away the moment you’ve had enough.
“Motorsport is too dangerous if you don’t care to do it. If I’d made up my mind to retire, as Damon has, I’d be scared in the car. You can knock on the door so many times before someone opens it.”
Hill has said he wants time out, but feels he can still be of use to the sport. A man interested in its history, he will hopefully be tempted to compete in events like the Goodwood Revival meeting, where last year he raced his father’s old Ferrari GTO. See Modern Times, p12.