Hill is Brill. Enjoy the 1997 Hungarian GP with Racecub


Champion Elect
Hill is Brill.
Being an ardent F1 fan of many years, my long suffering family and friends often get dragged to bars in far flung corners of the world when holidays and F1 races inevitably clash. This is the story of one such event. It is August the 10th 1997. I am on a twelve birth gulet,a boat something like this
, off the south coast of Turkey with my family and some friends and I am aware that the Hungarian GP is about to start. There is no TV on the boat, and no radio that I can understand, consequently I have no idea what the weather is like in Hungary and no idea what happened in qualifying. The captain has assured me we will be docked before the race starts......clearly we won’t! The boat is moving like a snail and I contemplate jumping in and swimming ashore, I am dissuaded from this foolhardy move and settle instead for pointing out hotels or bars along the front that look likely to be showing the race.
“That one ! I’ll try that one!”
And with the gang plank barely down I’m off, running along the marina to said hotel.
I should take a moment here to explain that back in the day I was an ardent Damon Hill fan, and though he was now in an Arrows car, rather than his championship winning Williams, he retained my full and passionate support.
Out of breath I arrive at the hotel, run in, and despite my worst fears, there in the lounge, the GP is playing! FANTASTIC!!! And it’s not been on long. The lounge is quite large, dark to the eyes after being in the sun, empty, and perfect for watching the GP. I go to the bar, get a raki and water and settle down to enjoy. But what is this? This can’t be right? Hill in second place ? But it is right! The names are on the screen. Even better, he’s keeping right up with Schumacher and pulling away from the rest of the field.
“Come on, come on!! Come on Damon!”
At this point, other members of my party, with varying degrees of F1 knowledge, began arriving in dribs and drabs at the hotel.
First up, my husband.
“SSHHHHH! “ That was before he spoke. “Damon’s coming second!”
“You’re joking!” He disappears off to get a drink then settles down in a chair to watch. He knows better than to talk while a GP is on.
Next up, my friend John, he hails from Yorkshire and is the life and soul of any party.
John- “ Y’ foun’ tele then? Soo wots ‘appnin’?”
Me- “ Come and watch John, Damon’s coming second”.
John- “Second? ‘Ows that then? Int ee in rubbish car this year?”
Me- “Yes, but look, he’s catching Schumacher.”
John- “Bloody ‘ell”. John goes to the bar.
Next to arrive, my friend Marion. Marion has less of a handle on things F1, but is happy to sit and watch with a gin and tonic, or two, or three. After studying the screen for a couple of minutes she says,
” Is that Damon Hill there?”
Marion-“But that’s good isn’t it?”
Marion-“Is he going to overtake Schumacher?”
John- “Bloody looks like it. That’ll teach the bugger.”
Indeed, it does look like it, Damon is right up on Schumacher pressurising him for the lead. I am now beside my self and the excitement in the room is palpable. We become more vocal in our encouragement of Damon. At this point enter John’s three sons and my young son. They hear our shouts, glance at the screen and immediately grasp the situation. Much whooping!! My son has been to Silverstone twice now, is a firm Hill supporter and ‘disliker’ of Schumacher.
“Hill is brill, Schuey is pooey!”, he shouts.
Hill is now dicing around Schumacher. The other boys join the shouting,
” Go on! Get the cheat!”
“C’mon man, take him out!”
“Give him a dose of his own medicine.”
And on lap eleven Damon swoops down the inside of Schumacher. Schumacher leaves little room, but unlike ’94, Damon gets through. We’re all on our feet.
“You beauty!”
“ Hill is brill, Schuey is pooey!”.
“Take that!”.
And some less then complimentary names for Mr. Schumacher.
We are in heaven! ...........And then the armchair in the corner speaks.
“Iz not important. Hill meanz nothing. Schumacher just needz to beat Villeneuve not Hill.”
It is a distinctly German sounding chair. We are stunned into silence. The men decide we need more drinks and beat a hasty retreat to the bar. Marion and I move from horrified embarrassment to inappropriate giggling, which we try to suppress. We have a similar warped sense of humour and once we get giggles like this, we can barely look at each other without starting each other off. Trying desperately to keep the giggles in, results in weird squeaking noises coming out.
And my son, there is no embarrassment from that quarter. His eyes blaze with impending battle. To him the bodiless voice from the armchair is an extension of the dastardly Herr Schumacher himself.
My son- ”Ha ! He can’t even beat an Arrows car, he’s not so good when he’s not cheating and crashing into people.”
Lots of coughing and shhhing from the adults and my son is marched out by his father. He returns in a few minutes to sit quietly casting evil looks at the chair.
And so we drink more drinks and watch Hill pulling out an imposing lead over the rest of the field. We are enjoying this immensely! We try to pretend the voice in the armchair is not there, but are aware that it is and it subdues or enthusiasm somewhat. Hill has thirty five seconds over the rest of the field with only three laps to go when disaster strikes. We don’t know at this point what the problem is, but Hill slows dramatically and Villeneuve is catching him hand over fist. By the last lap he is right up behind Hill and takes to the grass to overtake him. The agony on the face of the Arrows mechanic as the win slips away is replicated around the hotel room. That was so close to a sensational victory. Hill was brill, second was brill, but first was there for the taking. And it turns out the victory was lost because of the failure of a 50p seal!
With a mixture of emotions we make to leave, in fact we make to leave in quite a hurry...to avoid an embarrassing encounter with the voice, but my son has a parting shot....
“Cheats never prosper you know.” He shouts towards the armchair . “And he didn’t beat Villeneuve OR Hill”.
With that , my son is hustled out the door and we all beat a very hasty retreat to our boat to soak up some sun. Another GP watched, in another bar, in another country.
I often think about the voice in the chair, taking time out of his holiday to watch his hero. I hope we didn’t spoil it too much for him!

Here are a few facts, figures and gossip about the 1997 Hungarian GP.
Qualifying positions
1. Michael Schumacher- Ferrari
2. Jacques Villeneuve- Williams Renault
3. Damon Hill – Arrows Yamaha
4. Mika Hakkinen- McLaren Mercedes
5. Eddie Irvine - Ferrari
6. Heinz Harold Frentzen-Williams Renault
7. Gerhard Berger- Benetton Renault
8. David Coulthard- McLaren Mercedes
9. Jean Alesi- Beneton Renault
10. Rubens Barrichelo- Stewart Ford
Race results
1. Jacques Villeneuve- Williams Renault
2. Damon Hill – Arrows Yamaha
3. Johny Herbet- Sauber Petronaas
4. Michael Schumacher- Ferrari
5. Ralf Schumacher- Jordan Peugeot
6. Shinji Nakano- Prost Mugen Honda
7. Olivier Panis- Prost Mugen Honda
8. Gerhard Berger- Benetton Renault
9. Eddie Irvine- Ferrari
10. Ukyo katayama- Minardi-hart

Hill was on Bridgestone Tyres, which he said were fantastic that weekend. His team mate however only managed 18th on them. Schumacher and Villeneuve were on Goodyear.

Damon’s second place was Bidgestone’s first podium. It was Arrow’s last podim.

During practise on Friday, Damon sat most of the session out while his gear box was stripped. He only had one flying lap in the dying minutes of practise, and he was fifth fastest.

Both McLaren’s retired from the race, Hakkinen with a hydraulic problem and Coulthard with an electrical problem.

Schumacher, controversial as ever, was suspected by many in the paddock of running a torque control system. Jean Todt denied it. The system had however been deemed legal by the FIA anyway.

Damon was in an Arrows car having being sacked by Williams the previous year after winning the championship. It is thought by some that this treatment of Hill by Williams was contributory to Adrian Newey leaving the team.
Out of all the races I have ever watched that one stands out and remains the clearest in my memory the thrill only to be followed by crushing disappointment and finally realising just what a class act Damon was/is.

Thank you racecub for sharing your memories of that day with us and for reminding me of such a brilliant time in F1...:thumbsup:


A couple of other things about that weekend you may not be aware of, ITV completely missed Damon's qualifying lap and so they showed it the next day before the race, but worst of all they also missed Damon overtaking Schumacher because they cut to an add break right at the crucial moment, god I don't miss bloody adverts.....
I'll never forget the elation that I had felt when Damon unbelievably had passed and took the lead from Schumacher at Hungary, and the crushing feeling inside me, when Hill slowed down and lost the lead, with so few laps left.

Great story racecub.......:thankyou:
Out of all the races I have ever watched that one stands out and remains the clearest in my memory the thrill only to be followed by crushing disappointment

That's how I felt after Brazil 2008 being a big Massa fan, no hope at all, then suddenly it looks good and certain, only for the last lap and turn spoils :(

Sadly I didn't witness this race, well I might not have, but the first race I remember is Australia 1999, but I was told I watched F1 before then.
Indeed, I still get goosebumps watching that race, excited when Vettel passes Hamilton, and then down once Hamilton passes Glock.

But can't have it my way all the time, Raikkonen's victory in 2007 was amazing for me, not possible to have it two years running I suppose.
Great article and I wouldn't worry about the font.

Hungary 97 is one of the few races since I've been an F1 fan I've missed completely and only seen highlights of............the reason being I was on holiday in Turkey! Should have come found your bar.

Its funny how watching a good race somewhere unusual makes it more memorable. I have very fond memories of The British Grand Prix of 1995 which I watched in Rhodes with a bunch of slightly mental Germans who, to their credit, cheered Johnny Herbert all the way home for his first win.
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