All sorts of emotions must have been running through Damon Hill’s head as he crept back to the pits on the 36th lap of a scintillating Australian GP, few of them printable. After driving his heart out, he had challenged Michael Schumacher every inch of the way in their world title fight, only for the pair to collide. As the world waited, Hill knew from the suspension damage he could see and feel that, though he was mobile and Michael no longer was, the dream was over. The German, the cause of the incident, was already world champion.
The incident occurred in the East Terrace left-right as Michael nursed a 1.9sec lead. He lost his Benetton over a bump into the comer. The B194 oversteered, then understeered into the wall. As Michael tried to rejoin the track, Hill arrived. As he moved left to pass the Benetton, Michael moved left to block him. Then, as Hill dived to the right, on the inside line for the next comer, perhaps even thinking that Michael was moving over for him due to his incident, Michael cut him off. Hill’s left-front struck the Benetton’s right sidepod and the blue/green car was launched onto two wheels before nudging into the tyre wall.
Michael hopped out and had some anxious moments as Hill struggled back to the pits with a flat front-left. For a brief period, it seemed that the title lay at the Briton’s feet, in emulation of his father’s traumatic 1968 success, but already Damon himself knew that the Williams’ suspension was kinked.
Michael was the first German to win the title. At 25 years 10 months, he was the youngest champion since Emerson Fittipaldi, who was a month younger when he took his first title in 1972 — .DJT