F1 home win legends — a day in heaven

Winning in front of your home fans is what every young motor racing fan dreams of, but only a select few have ever experienced such euphoria. Maurice Hamilton looks back at Formula 1’s territorial rabble-rousers and finds out what it means to raise your arm in triumph in front of an adoring crowd

Damon-Hill-raises-his-hands-to-the-air-on-the-podium-after-winning-the-1994-F1-British-Grand-Prix-at-Silverstone

Hill wins at home in the 1994 British GP

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The emotive appeal of victory in a home grand prix spreads beyond the winner himself. When preparing preview material, any self-respecting sports editor will scan the entry list and look for local talent as the source of jingoistic words designed to attract and gratify readers. And so begins a vicarious circle of expectation that becomes strong enough to have casual observers actually believe victory is a matter of course rather than the hopeful possibility any home hero truly knows it to be.

This double-edged sword brings massive pressure during the preliminaries, but an enhanced sense of achievement when the dream result becomes a reality at the end of the weekend. A driver will tell you that a win is a win. They will also admit that the top of a podium is a heady and emotional place to be at the racetrack where they learned their craft across the previous and often difficult decades. The echo of a heart-warming national anthem, coupled with immediate recognition as being the best, generates a satisfaction that becomes even more personal as the massed ranks of happy race fans call your name. It’s also true that you are only as good as your last result, so savour this one for all it’s worth.

Knowing his father Graham had failed to win the British Grand Prix in 17 attempts, Damon Hill had been aware of the race’s nostalgic connotations long before he followed into the family profession. It was therefore no surprise to Damon that the 1994 season was turning out to be an exceptionally difficult one, not least because he had been thrust into team leadership at Williams-Renault following the shocking loss of Ayrton Senna at Imola.