The 1990s was an eventful decade for F1 in terms of the drivers’ market and the changes that saw new pairings get formed at different teams. Damon Hill was also actively involved in one of those, making the switch from Williams to the Yamaha team and later on, B&H Jordan F1.
But things could so easily have been different for Hill had he elected to move to F1 icon Sir Jackie Stewart’s team. In collaboration with his son, the legendary Briton had newly launched the ‘Stewart Grand Prix’ team in 1997.
Stewart, at the time, wanted a good driver to guide the team to some good results, and Hill was also looking to make a move. But the latter declined Stewart’s proposal, and he has now revealed in an interview how it ‘broke his heart.’
Would have been like a dream driving for Jackie Stewart’s team, said Damon Hill
Hill said, “He made me a very good offer. I have to say that it broke my heart to reject Jackie because I knew it would have been like a dream.” (translated via Google Translate)
The Williams driver had just won the 1996 F1 title, edging Jacques Villeneuve on the final day of the racing season. But having considered all his options, Hill decided to move to the Danka Arrows Yamaha team.
Hill continued, “I just thought that it would have been a big risk in terms of your career. You had never headed a Formula 1 team.”
Stewart Grand Prix had a brilliant 1999 F1 season after two years of troubles
The 1997 season saw the team suffer mechanical failures leading to many retirements. At the other end, Hill followed up a title-winning campaign with a decent P6 in the Drivers’ Standings.
However, a final swish of the wand from Stewart GP in the 1999 F1 season saw them achieve podiums and a solitary race win. With 36 points, they secured fourth in the Constructors’ standings, in what was a mightily impressive achievement.
One can only wonder in hindsight if things could have been different had Hill driven Stewart GP’s car. Regardless of anything else, the sight of two legends working together in tandem would have been one to cherish!
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