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Damon Hill's departure from Williams in 1996


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#1 sennafan24

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 00:32

Hi guys, just a few things

 

Damon Hill was a childhood hero of mine, and I never understood why he left Williams. I never really read up on the subject either, the only thing I really know is that the thought he could not overtake, and his 1995 efforts did not receive good reviews. If anyone could expand further, if there is any expanding, I would be interested.

 

Also was it a good move?, bad move?, or about neutral. J.V won the title the next year until Williams went A.W.O.L until 2002 time, but could Damon have done a better job in 1997 than J.V do you think? He had the measure of J.V in 1996, more so than the points total would suggest from my observations when I watched the season review back recently.

 

Any feedback welcome  :up:



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#2 arttidesco

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 01:11

As I remember it the essence of the problem was that Williams had Damon on a bargain basement contract until the end of 1995 and after winning the WDC Damon thought he deserved a substantial pay rise and between them they could not come to an agreement.

 

Given Damon's age it was not hard to see his point of view, career wise he knew he did not have much longer left in the sport as he was approaching 40. He did the right thing for him and his family by taking more money elsewhere and fortunately for him he managed to salvage a rapid demise in results by joining Jordan after it became obvious things were not going to work out at Arrows.

 

Not sure HH Frentzen and Williams was a match made in heaven either, though HH also showed great pace when he replaced Hill at Jordan IIRC.

 

What was going on behind the scenes I really do not know, but that is the way I remember the situation unfolding in the press.


Edited by arttidesco, 14 January 2014 - 01:12.


#3 George Costanza

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 02:39

If he stayed, he would have been a two time WDC for sure, IMO.



#4 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 03:04

Damon's replacement was announced mid-96, and the stories were Frentzen was signed much earlier. Or at minimum decided on as the replacement. As far back as the 1995 season. 

 

Coulthard however, jumped at the end of 95 for the big money of McLaren. What would have been interesting is if he had stayed for 96/97.



#5 Tim Murray

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 06:13

There's lots of interesting stuff in this earlier thread:

 

Sir Frank Williams admits he made "a serious error in judgment" in not re-signing Damon Hill



#6 Derwent Motorsport

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:08

Williams never liked paying out for good drivers and seemed to make a habit of dropping their champions after they won a title. I think Frank thought his cars were better than the drivers and that he could pick up another driver cheaply who could do the business.
perhaps in the long run that accounts for their decline in recent years?



#7 chunder27

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:27

I am sure Frentzen was signed long before Damon won the title, and he sort of knew he wasnt going to be there in 97, unless he was prepared to drive as a world champion for a rather paltry wage, still a lot but maybe not enough for him.

 

To be fair, unless Jacques and HH were useless at driving the engineering direction Williams had a poor period after Damon left, OK Jacques won the title, but that car was Newey and very good, after that the directionw as poor, grooved tyres hated Williams and Jacques especially.

 

I think Damon timed it well, shame about Arrows but Jordan suited him it seemed, and he did better there than I thought he would until he couldnt be arsed anymore!



#8 Amaroo Park

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:52

Wasn't one of the reasons Newey left Williams due to the treatment Hill received?



#9 Dunc

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:41

Is my memory playing tricks on me or was Hill not offered a drive at McLaren by Ron Dennis?  Presumably he would have replaced DC if he was.  He might have had some good fights with Mika.



#10 kayemod

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 12:22

Is my memory playing tricks on me or was Hill not offered a drive at McLaren by Ron Dennis?  Presumably he would have replaced DC if he was.  He might have had some good fights with Mika.

 

I think that's true, but wasn't payment by results only with hardly any retainer? Not surprised that Damon turned that down, but a nice try Ron. Always thought of McLaren as being top payers, but apparently not in this case.



#11 midgrid

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 13:12

Wasn't one of the reasons Newey left Williams due to the treatment Hill received?


Yes, Newey wanted a greater say in how the team was run, including driver selection, which Williams and Head were unwilling to give him.

#12 sennafan24

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 14:15

Thanks for the feedback  :up:



#13 Kingshark

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 15:06

Given that Hill beat JV quite convincingly in 1996, including 97 points vs 78 points, and 8 wins vs 4 - it's likely that not resigning with Williams for 1997 cost Damon Hill a 2nd WDC.


Edited by Kingshark, 14 January 2014 - 15:06.


#14 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 15:34

Is my memory playing tricks on me or was Hill not offered a drive at McLaren by Ron Dennis?  Presumably he would have replaced DC if he was.  He might have had some good fights with Mika.

 

I think that was later on, for the 1998 season? So Hill was offered a fairly basic salary but appreciable win/pole/etc bonuses. Which for a 98-99 McLaren would have earned decently...

 

That would have been sometime during the 1997 season. When Hill still had a good reputation but not a lot of negotiating room. And I can see why in 1997 you'd flip a coin between Jordan and McLaren. The yellow cars looked very promising. 



#15 hipperson

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 15:44

This may tell you something !

 

 

 Though shocked by his unceremonious dismissal Damon maintained the decorum he thought a champion should have, leaving his indignant wife Georgie (they married in 1988 and had three children) to speak up for him. "Damon has proved himself to have more integrity and dignity in his little finger," Georgie Hill said, "than most people have got in their whole body."



#16 sennafan24

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 16:16

Given that Hill beat JV quite convincingly in 1996, including 97 points vs 78 points, and 8 wins vs 4 - it's likely that not resigning with Williams for 1997 cost Damon Hill a 2nd WDC.

:up:

 

Hill is quite underrated in general. In 1993 which was pretty much his rookie year (he only competed in the race twice in 1992) he did pretty well against Prost. In 1995 which is considered a weak year he still beat D.C, 1996 he beat J.V pretty cleanly, and he had a few memorable drivers for Arrows and Jordan in his later years. I would say he had peaked by 1998/1999, but he was a tad underrated by some.

 

1996 was probably his best year, I watched Monaco a few months back and he was bombing it round before his mechanical failure, miles ahead on the pack. Best car? Yes, but still impressive anyhow.

 

After Senna died, I cna only think of Schumi and Mika whom I would say were better than him from 1994-2000.



#17 PayasYouRace

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 17:12

Interesting thread so far.

 

There's an article the 1997 F1 yearbook by Nigel Roebuck which I'm going to quote from. Might give some insight of what was felt at the time.

 

"The Williams decision to replace Hill with Frentzen seemed eccentric, to say the least, and stemmed from the proprietors fears that Ferrari would ultimately provide Schumacher with a truly competitive car. "If you really want to know why we're replacing Hill," another [Williams] team member tersely said at the time, "It's because he can't bloody pass people."

 

"That seemed a touch harsh, for overtaking in the contemporary era is near impossible at the best of times, but it was indisputable that getting though backmarkers quickly - a Schumacher speciality - was not Hill's strongest suit. [Frank] Williams suspected in that, in Frentzen, he would have not only an ultra quick driver, but also a harder racer than Hill.

 

"There is, however, rather more to being a successful driver than that. Gerhard Berger was astonished by Williams decision: "First, Frentzen is not exactly proven. Second, while Damon may not be the most naturally-talented driver, he knows how to win races - and that's something you can't teach. You have it, or you don't."

 

"Williams had something else going with Hill, too. There is probably no better test driver than Damon, and those skills would be missed. Broadly, his tastes in set-up followed conventional Formula 1 practice, whereas Villeneuve, schooled in Indycar racing, had more radical ideas, which sometimes worked, sometimes didn't."

 

From later in the article:

 

"Again, thoughts turned back to Hill, formerly the Williams baseline - and a man who had easily won the German Grand Prix the previous year. By now, members of the team were freely conceding (off the record, of course) that his removal had been a mistake, a view further amplified by events in Hungary, where Villeneuve won - but only after passing Damon's stricken Arrows on the very last lap."

 

While I think Roebuck is a bit generous about the German GP in 1996 (Berger was leading and his engine blew with 3 or so laps to go) I think he summed up the situation quite well.

 

In my mind, Williams would have been a formidable pairing in 1997 had Hill remained. They wouldn't have made the stupid mistakes they did in places like Monaco. I'd say it would have been Hill's tortoise to Villeneuve's hare, with Schumacher providing a much greater threat than in 1996. A 3 way title fight might have been possible, and the kind of year where even if Damon had been 3rd at the end, it would probably have been after a few great wins and just a few points down. Maybe he would have finally got that Monaco win, or a less controversial win at Silverstone.



#18 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 17:21

But again, if the decision was made in 95 or the offseason, the picture is taken in completely different light. Hill had some question marks after the 95 season so there is logic in wondering if there was someone better.



#19 uechtel

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 17:44

I think he was really underrated because he seemed less 'performant' in the races. But any F1 team he joined was better during this time than before or after:

 

Williams 1991-1996 (the years when the team was dominant in F1, initially as test driver)

Brabham 1992 (performing far better than van de Poele)

Arrows 1997 (getting nearly the only victory for Arrows and the first podium since ages)

Jordan 1998-1999 (first team victory in 1998 and the 1999 Jordan seems to have been a really good one either)

 

Was this all accidental or was he one of the best "test" drivers ever?



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#20 Michael Ferner

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 19:40

I think at the heart of it was Williams's desire to secure a future. Remember, the team had, all through the eighties, always had at least one "top drawer" driver, some of them "homemade" (Jones, Rosberg, Mansell), some "imported" (Reutemann, Laffite, Piquet), with only the Boutsen/Patrese combo being somewhat "shaky", but both had good credentials, and the hope was probably for Boutsen to rise to the occasion - didn't really happen, and those two years were probably the lowest point in WGPE's decade, with no excuses for the circumstances (like '83 or '88, for example). Now, when Mansell dealt himself out of a Williams contract for '93, Damon Hill was signed as a stop gap (respected for his testing prowess, but hardly sought after because of his results), and did surprisingly well, so he was retained, but then Senna perished, and another stop gap (Coulthard) was signed. In the long run, both Hill and Coulthard turned out to be more than competent drivers, but at the time the Williams brass must have had doubts, and quite understandably so! Villeneuve was the first driver signed "on merit" long before the end of '95, and it was effectively a shoot-out between DH and DC for the other seat, and that scenario was pretty much repeated the following year, with Frentzen joining "on merit", and Williams seeing lots of promise in GV, so Damon was out despite a really fabulous season.

 

Of course, it was a mistake, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Apparently, Williams had been after Frentzen for quite some time, and Villeneuve WAS pretty impressive as a rookie in F1, so it was tempting to see Hill as a mediocre driver, flattered by an exceptional car. There is a hint of truth in that idea, but it's not the whole truth, not even 10 % of it. The Williams of, say, 1995 was a great car, but it was no match for the Benetton, which was far more reliable, and just as fast. And Hill did make a few unnecessary mistakes, but he wasn't exactly throwing races away right and left. But that was the perception at the time, and it did Damon's reputation no good. Looking back, one can see that Damon was a superb driver, TAKING the car and the team to its heights, not the other way round. But, "in the eye of the storm", Williams thought otherwise, and Frank's man enough to admit it.



#21 midgrid

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 22:15

There's an article the 1997 F1 yearbook by Nigel Roebuck which I'm going to quote from. Might give some insight of what was felt at the time.

Is that the Autosport annual?  Oddly enough, there's a sidebar in one of the reprinted race reports which indirectly quotes a Williams team member as saying that having Hill in the car would have been better for the team at the start of the year, but that Frentzen had raised his game after a shaky start and by the end of the season was performing better than Hill would have done (the implication being that Villeneuve had also raised his game from 1996 and would also have beaten Hill had their partnership continued).  Unfortunately I don't have access to it right now, so I can't go into any more detail than that.



#22 PayasYouRace

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 22:32

No it's the official Yearbook With No Name. This one: http://www.motor-spo...brand_min_1.jpg


Edited by PayasYouRace, 15 January 2014 - 08:09.


#23 D-Type

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 23:29

No it's the official yearbook. This one: http://www.motor-spo...brand_min_1.jpg

I wish people wouldn't use the word "Official" gratuitously.

 

That yearbook was produced and largely written by Luc Domenjoz and published by Parragon.  It does not have FIA sanction nor does it have any connection with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One® Group companies so there is no way that it can be termed "Official".  Not that this in any way invalidates Nigel Roebuck's comments.


Edited by D-Type, 14 January 2014 - 23:35.


#24 Amaroo Park

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 02:10

I have often wonder what options were available to Hill for 97 and why the hell he went and drove for Walkinshaw. Will always remember the first GP of 97 and the debacle of Hill just trying to qualify the car which was having huge issues



#25 Zippel

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 04:50

I have often wonder what options were available to Hill for 97 and why the hell he went and drove for Walkinshaw. Will always remember the first GP of 97 and the debacle of Hill just trying to qualify the car which was having huge issues

 

Options were:

 

Benetton (replacing Alesi, I think Bernie even had a hand in this but in the end nothing eventuated).

Jordan

Sauber (Was offering the most money)

Arrows

Stewart.

 

Despite the rumours, McLaren weren't an option for 1997.

 

Why pick Arrows? Hill only wanted a 1 year deal with a mid-grid team, the likes of Jordan and Sauber would only discuss 2 years. Hill wanted to keep himself open to the idea of moving to a top team for 98 (McLaren specifically) and Walkinshaw was willing to give the 1 year contract.  Walkinshaw also showed Hill Arrows' facilities which quite impressed him, particuarly the wind tunnel. Hill thought Arrows was the best option of the mid-grids to move up the grid quickly and a place he thought he might stay if the top teams didn't want him. Walkinshaw's reputation at that point was someone who can gain success quickly, with a history to back it up. Promises were made about where Arrows would be, with Yamaha on board and Arrows being the lead Bridgestone team. Unfortunately it all went pear shaped when Arrows couldn't secure a decent engine for 98 and so Hill explored other options.



#26 Amaroo Park

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 05:26

Walkinshaw had already had Arrows for 12 months and had not been able to do anything with it. The Yamaha engine was at best a dog and hadn't really proved itself with any other team. I suppose Walkinshaw was one hell of a salesman, I mean he got Diniz on board and used part of the money they paid Arrows to pay Hill's wages



#27 Zippel

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 05:39

Walkinshaw had already had Arrows for 12 months and had not been able to do anything with it. The Yamaha engine was at best a dog and hadn't really proved itself with any other team. I suppose Walkinshaw was one hell of a salesman, I mean he got Diniz on board and used part of the money they paid Arrows to pay Hill's wages

 

Walkinshaw didn't concentrate all that much on 96, focusing more on 97. I don't think was he was owner when the 96 car was constructed anyway, joining sometime in the year. Regardless, Hill was impressed enough to believe what Walkinshaw and co told him and he did have a history in numerous other motorsports and Benetton to suggest he can move a team forward. With Bridgestone, a new Yamaha engine, John Barnard onboard, etc, there was some promise there but ultimately didn't get fulfilled. BTW, not a fan of Walkinshaw at all but just telling the history from what I've pieced together.



#28 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 07:41

It would have to take a thread about my all time favourite driver to post in the Nostalgia forum for the first time. 

 

I'm sorry if this is just repeated but as I understand it it really was a decision taken early 1995. 

 

Damon Hill came on the back of a very succesful 1994 season when he stepped up following the tragic death of Senna and was one of the people who really led the team through this difficult time. 

 

However he did make a mess of things in 1995 when, after he took the fight to Schumacher in 1994, he was expected to win the title in 1995. Instead he had a season full of mistakes. Williams had once before tried to sign Frentzen, in 1994, who at the time was considered a huge talent. Frentzen had turned them down because he had given his word to Sauber, something that impressed Frank Williams and just made him more determined to sign Frentzen. He instead signed Frentzen already in 1994 or very early 1995 to a contract from 1997 when his current contract with Williams ran out. 

 

This put Williams in an awkward situation as they signed Villeneuve on a multi year contract starting in 1996 and already had Frentzen under contract for 1997 at the same time as Damon Hill impressed veryone during 1996. Breaking Frentzens contract after Frentzen had given his word to Sauber early wasn't an option either and still Hills 1995 season was in fresh memory. 

 

So Williams didn't have much option than chosing not to resign Hill to a new contract despite him dominating the championship. 

 

McLaren did offer Hill a contract for 1997, one could suspect much under pressure from British media to "look good" and it can hardly be considered a serious offer. Hill was offered a no retainer contract with bonus money for each win, not a contract of serious intentions for a reigning WDC. 

 

So Hill went to Arrows, almost giving them their first ever F1 win and then to Jordan where he actually gave them their first ever F1 win. 

 

Ever the gentleman, one of the nicest WDC we'll ever see in this sport. 



#29 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 07:51

I wish people wouldn't use the word "Official" gratuitously.

 

That yearbook was produced and largely written by Luc Domenjoz and published by Parragon.  It does not have FIA sanction nor does it have any connection with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One® Group companies so there is no way that it can be termed "Official".  Not that this in any way invalidates Nigel Roebuck's comments.

 

I can't think of anything else to call it. The Yearbook with no name?



#30 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 07:57

Walkinshaw had already had Arrows for 12 months and had not been able to do anything with it. The Yamaha engine was at best a dog and hadn't really proved itself with any other team. I suppose Walkinshaw was one hell of a salesman, I mean he got Diniz on board and used part of the money they paid Arrows to pay Hill's wages

 

Not quite. TWR switched from Ligier to Footwork in March 1996, far too late to have much effect on their 1996 performance. 1997 was the first year that truly represented TWR Arrows.



#31 hipperson

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 09:11

I had the pleasure of dealing with Damon 2 years ago when I organised a charity fundraiser at the BRDC raising money for the charity

he heads in Guildford....

 

http://www.halowproject.org.uk/

 

Prior to the event Alan Henry and I treated him to lunch near his home. Thoroughly nice fellow as he comes across on TV

We raised £12,000 with on the night and he was thrilled. The mad Perry 'Stig' MaCarthy was auctioneer !

 

Here myself and my three children present him with a reminder of the night

 

IMG_7150.jpg

 

DH.jpg

 

The mad Original Stig

 

STIG.jpg

 

I had invited Maurray Walker but he was under the weather ...he sent me a letter which I read out not saying who it was from......when I had finished I asked the guests who wrote it................with one accord they shouted...'MURRAY !'

 

img283_zps885f6944.jpg



#32 D-Type

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:24

I can't think of anything else to call it. The Yearbook with no name?

If you like. 

 

My point is that it is not in any way officially sanctioned.  All you need to do is identify which of the many yearbooks you are quoting.  You could say "Luc Domecq's Yearbook" or if you feel the publisher is important  "Luc Domecq's Parragon Yearbook". 

 

Although correct, it would be overly pedantic to write "Luc Domecq's unofficial Yearbook"


Edited by D-Type, 15 January 2014 - 12:25.


#33 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 13:27

Now, when Mansell dealt himself out of a Williams contract for '93, Damon Hill was signed as a stop gap (respected for his testing prowess, but hardly sought after because of his results), and did surprisingly well, so he was retained, but then Senna perished, and another stop gap (Coulthard) was signed.

 

Out of curiosity, who was in the running for the Williams drive for 1993? After Mansell left I'd imagine every driver and his grandmother were queuing up for that seat, apart from Senna who didn't want to be Prost's teammate. There must have been some pretty talented guys in the running.

 

It's different for Coulthard who was brought in mid-season after Senna's death. Williams still brought Mansell in for a few races too.



#34 sennafan24

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 15:13

Martin Brundle says he was in the frame for 1993, and is still not sure why he did not get the drive.



#35 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 15:56

Out of curiosity, who was in the running for the Williams drive for 1993? After Mansell left I'd imagine every driver and his grandmother were queuing up for that seat, apart from Senna who didn't want to be Prost's teammate. There must have been some pretty talented guys in the running.

 

It's different for Coulthard who was brought in mid-season after Senna's death. Williams still brought Mansell in for a few races too.

 

It was rather Prost who didn't want Senna as his team mate. Senna hade a huge rant at the time about that. 

 

I seem to remember that Mansells call came relatively late in the 1992 season and most drivers were tied up in other contracts. 

 

Ricardo Patrese was offered to stay at the team after having be told earlier he had to leave and would not get a contract renewal. After Mansells decision to leave for US Williams asked Ricardo to stay with the team for 1993 but he had already committed to Benetton for 1993 and didn't want to go back on the signed contract with the team. 

After Mansell decided to leave Williams Senna was offered but blocked by Prost. Patrese was offered to stay but had already signed with Benetton. Martin Brundle was rumoured to be in the frame but Williams had seen something in Hill who was the test driver and felt he would be a good addition to Prost. Hill had also turned down a two year race contract with Ligier to stay with Williams as a test driver in the hope something would open up for 1993 .... he probably had some good inside information about the whole Mansell-Prost-Senna affair and felt he had a chance to get the slot in the best car of the field. Pretty ballsy decision as Ligier was a very decent mid field team at the time and Hill's only race experience was trying to qualify the dreadful Brabham. A ballsy decision that paid off. 

 

One reason Brundle might not have gotten it was that he was outperformed by Schumacher at Benetton in 1992 and, to manys surprise, was sacked by Benetton and would not get to stay for 1993. That probably damaged Brundles value on the market. 


Edited by LuckyStrike1, 15 January 2014 - 15:58.


#36 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 17:00

When Hill was signed was it a one year or multi-year deal? Because I can see given the circumstances of how late the seat became available, who was available, and the negotiating strength of the team; they could just give the car to their test driver for a year and then start preparing for 1994.



#37 PayasYouRace

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 17:08

It was rather Prost who didn't want Senna as his team mate. Senna hade a huge rant at the time about that. 

 

Yes you're right. I got that backwards.

 

 

Hill had also turned down a two year race contract with Ligier to stay with Williams as a test driver in the hope something would open up for 1993 .... he probably had some good inside information about the whole Mansell-Prost-Senna affair and felt he had a chance to get the slot in the best car of the field. Pretty ballsy decision as Ligier was a very decent mid field team at the time and Hill's only race experience was trying to qualify the dreadful Brabham.

 

Indeed, the Ligier JS39 was a pretty handy car and scored some good results in Brundle and Blundell's hands. Had Damon taken that he would certainly have missed out on a WDC. He would have missed his chance.

 

Oddly enough I did have Brundle as a possible contender for the drive in the back of my mind, so it's probably something I half-remembered. Martin is also a driver who I think is a bit underrated, and I can well imagine him following a similar career path to Damon had he been put in that Williams.



#38 midgrid

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 17:42

Mika Hakkinen was also an early contender for the second Williams seat in 1993 - Atlas F1 article.



#39 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 19:19

When Hill was signed was it a one year or multi-year deal? Because I can see given the circumstances of how late the seat became available, who was available, and the negotiating strength of the team; they could just give the car to their test driver for a year and then start preparing for 1994.

 

 

I seem to remember from the time it was for 1993 only with the usual options for the following year. Then he got a three year contract for 1994-1996 based on his pretty good debut season 1993. 

 

But that is said from a weak memory and a laziness meaning I can't care google to make sure. 


Edited by LuckyStrike1, 15 January 2014 - 19:20.


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#40 sennafan24

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 22:02

Mika Hakkinen was also an early contender for the second Williams seat in 1993 - Atlas F1 article.

You learn something new everyday.  :up:

 

Mika for various reasons was a late bloomer, Frentzen? I find very hard to measure how good he was, or more could have been. I say D Hill was the right choice for Williams from 1993-1996.



#41 Dunc

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 22:14

Really enjoying this thread. Hill was one of my heroes as a kid, it's always bugged me that he was and is so underrated. Schumi was the best of that era but when it comes to number two it's got to be between Damon and Mika. Both were the only drivers able to challenge him for a sustained period. Mika probably edges it but it's close.

#42 RS2000

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 22:44

I'm sure I've seen a documentary on TV (was it "The Team" - series about Mclaren's 93 season?) in which Frank Williams is talking to Prost (in the Silverstone pits during pre-season testing?) about a final decision on the second driver and only mentions Hakkinen and Hill, both by first name only. Prost gives no meaningful response other than to say "Hakkinen?", as if he had just thought of another Mika!

Edited by RS2000, 15 January 2014 - 22:48.


#43 Vitesse2

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 00:12

I'm sure I've seen a documentary on TV (was it "The Team" - series about Mclaren's 93 season?) in which Frank Williams is talking to Prost (in the Silverstone pits during pre-season testing?) about a final decision on the second driver and only mentions Hakkinen and Hill, both by first name only. Prost gives no meaningful response other than to say "Hakkinen?", as if he had just thought of another Mika!

Well, Salo would have been a vague possibility - although he was in Japan at the time.



#44 Zippel

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 02:47

McLaren did offer Hill a contract for 1997, one could suspect much under pressure from British media to "look good" and it can hardly be considered a serious offer. Hill was offered a no retainer contract with bonus money for each win, not a contract of serious intentions for a reigning WDC. 

 

That contract you refer to was for 1998 (Source: F1 through the eyes of Damon Hill). 

 

The wins bonus looks great on reflection but during 1997 the McLaren car kept blowing up while leading which was something Hill had to factor, and ultimately could have meant being paid less than the other driver Mika Hakkinen who was winless at the time. It suggests Ron didn't perceive his worth as a WDC. Another thing was length of the deal. Ron Dennis would not talk beyond a 1 year contract and Hill suspected he would have been a stop gap and would have made way for Michael Schumacher, if he had agreed to join them, for 1999.



#45 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 08:39

You learn something new everyday.  :up:

 

Mika for various reasons was a late bloomer, Frentzen? I find very hard to measure how good he was, or more could have been. I say D Hill was the right choice for Williams from 1993-1996.

 

 

I'd say Mikas cars were late bloomers. 

 

Mika showed great promise and speed from the beginning in F1 but just didn't have the equipment ti give it justice in the Lotus cars. 

 

His performance when he jumped in the McLaren to replaced Michael Andretti and outqualified Senna is F1 legend. Then McLaren hade some uncompetitive cars for a few years until 1998. 



#46 LuckyStrike1

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 08:41

That contract you refer to was for 1998 (Source: F1 through the eyes of Damon Hill). 

 

The wins bonus looks great on reflection but during 1997 the McLaren car kept blowing up while leading which was something Hill had to factor, and ultimately could have meant being paid less than the other driver Mika Hakkinen who was winless at the time. It suggests Ron didn't perceive his worth as a WDC. Another thing was length of the deal. Ron Dennis would not talk beyond a 1 year contract and Hill suspected he would have been a stop gap and would have made way for Michael Schumacher, if he had agreed to join them, for 1999.

 

 

Ah yes of course it was after Arrows. I still think it was right for Damon to turn that contract down as it didn't seem very serious. And he was already WDC at the time ... Jordan was a good choice instead. It was just a shame his heart just wasn't in there anymore in 1999 but I do respect his decision to retire at the end of that year citing he just wasn't motivated to hang it out and take the risks anymore. Hill's career was a bit special starting so late and with that background and today it would be unheard of. 



#47 redviper22

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 11:44

I'd say Mikas cars were late bloomers.

Mika showed great promise and speed from the beginning in F1 but just didn't have the equipment ti give it justice in the Lotus cars.

His performance when he jumped in the McLaren to replaced Michael Andretti and outqualified Senna is F1 legend. Then McLaren hade some uncompetitive cars for a few years until 1998.


I do love this myth that had been created about Mika. He only started winning races once Newey started designing his cars. Even then, he made very hard work of the 98 and 99 championships despite having the best car.

#48 redviper22

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 12:03

Hi guys, just a few things
 
Damon Hill was a childhood hero of mine, and I never understood why he left Williams. I never really read up on the subject either, the only thing I really know is that the thought he could not overtake, and his 1995 efforts did not receive good reviews. If anyone could expand further, if there is any expanding, I would be interested.
 
Also was it a good move?, bad move?, or about neutral. J.V won the title the next year until Williams went A.W.O.L until 2002 time, but could Damon have done a better job in 1997 than J.V do you think? He had the measure of J.V in 1996, more so than the points total would suggest from my observations when I watched the season review back recently.
 
Any feedback welcome  :up:


Well frentzen did manage to beat hill a couple of years later though obviously circumstances were different.

If hill had performed like he did in the first half of 96 then he would have probably won the title. However we have to consider that although the 97 Williams was the best car in 97, it did not have the dominance of the 96 car. We also had to consider that Ferrari were more competitive and Schumacher was able to mount a championship challenge, which would have added pressure on hill. We also had softer tyres. Hills 97 at arrows was ok. Hungary was an outstanding performance but one swallow does not make summer. He made some important errors in in San Marino, Austria, and Nurburgring. He got out performed by diniz a few too many times and walkinshaw publically stated he was not happy with hills performances in the first half of the season.

#49 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 12:45

Hill-Villeneuve in a 97 Williams would have been interesting. Williams seemed to step on their own toes in 97 and I imagine Hill would have been more 'reliable' Equally he and JV may have taken points off each other.



#50 Dunc

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 12:55

I remember it being said repeatedly at the time that Hill faced the same criticisms against Schumacher that his father had faced against Jim Clark.  They were both seen as journeymen up against an F1 natural (I paraphrase but that's the gist) but both were still able to challenge their superiors for wins and WDCs.  OT but I can see some parallels with drivers on the current grid, Button and Grosjean for instance.