JULY 5, 1999
Damon Hill to bow out after Silverstone
DAMON HILL will race for the last time in Formula 1 at Silverstone this weekend. The 1996 World Champion spent the early part of last week negotiating his exit from the sport while his likely replacement Jos Verstappen was testing for Jordan Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Hill finally confirmed that he would stop after the British Grand Prix - having completed half the races of the year - this makes it rather less complicated as he has already been paid $4m of his $8m salary - and he joked that if the JordanÊMugenÊHonda was suddenly a second faster than the McLarens and Ferrari he might stay on.
In response to stories suggesting that he was only doing the Silverstone race to cash in on merchandising income, Hill said that any money raised would be given to charity. "I cannot spend my whole life at a racing circuit," Hill said. "I have four children and they need my time and it is not fair on them or my wife to deprive them of that."
Silverstone should, therefore, be an emotional send-off for Britain's top F1 driver in front of his home crowd and the Jordan team hope that Damon will rise to the occasion and give them a good result to finish his F1 career.
Although it is still not been officially announced Hill will be replaced in Austria by the 27-year-old Dutchman Jos Verstappen. Verstappen arrived in F1 in 1994, standing in for the injured JJ Lehto at Benetton. Although he scored some good results that year he was not really ready for a drive with a top team and his career suffered as a result with an unsuccessful spell at Simtek followed by seasons at Arrows and Tyrrell. Last year he did half the season with Stewart, replacing Jan Magnussen. His career was kept alive with a deal to be the test driver for Honda Racing Developments and in the last few months he has completed a considerable amount of development work using the Honda V10 engine which Jordan races. This was the primary reason for Jos to be considered for the job at Jordan.
After his first tests last week at Silverstone Verstappen commented that the car felt very quick but that he still has a lot more to learn about it.