Damon Hill on Michael Schumacher: My Greatest Rival

How do you up your game when a ruthless machine like Schuey arrives? Damon Hill recalls the soul-searching required to take on a genius

Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill in 1994

Mike Hewitt/Allsport via Getty Images

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Rivalries start with your team-mates. In Formula Ford it was the whole gang of them. I’d come from bike racing and this was the first time I’d been up against people who could pull something else out of the bag.

My toughest rival? It has to be Michael Schumacher. At the start of 1994 he hadn’t won a championship, but he’d already been putting the pressure on Ayrton Senna, and then, after Imola, the pressure was turned on me, the full weight of his potency. Nobody was fully aware of just how much brilliance he had in him, though it was pretty obvious by the end of the year when he beat me to the title by one point after the collision in Adelaide.

People talk about Adelaide as the low point, our rivalry at its most intense, but for me it was 1995 when it got really serious. I ran into him at the second chicane at Monza, and we’d already collided at Silverstone. Coming into Priory he went very wide, opened the door, almost like he was inviting me in there on the inside of him. I’d been catching him fast, on new tyres, and I think he realised I was going to pass him, that I had an advantage. He turned in on me and we both went off. Part of his genius was out-psyching people into those situations.