Damon Hill said he would love to own his 1996 Championship-winning car but knows he would not take good enough care of it.
Formula 1 drivers, especially World Champions, owning one of their previous cars is not unheard of. Fernando Alonso was gifted his 2005 and 2006 Renault cars by the team before putting them in his museum while Michael Schumacher has an incredible collection of five F1 cars.
Most of the seven-time World Champion’s cars are from Ferrari while he was also given the Benetton cars he drove to title success in 1994 and 1994 as well as the Mercedes W03, the last car he raced in F1.
Sebastian Vettel also has an F1 car in his garage at home having bought Nigel Mansell’s 1992 title-winning Williams a few years ago.
While Hill would love to join that elite group of F1 car owners, he knows himself well enough to believe he would not take the kind of a care a car like that deserves.
He was asked on F1 Nation’s second “Ask Damon” special if he had any cars from his career back home in the garage.
“When my dad [Graham Hill] died, the team [Embassy Hill] was basically folded and the race cars that he had were sold off,” Hill said.
“And the other cars belong to people like BRM and Lotus. These cars are obviously very valuable. Some of them are owned by collectors and connoisseurs of the sport and they’re beautifully preserved. Some people have got a museum.
“So they’re all out there being looked after by the right people with the money to do it. I’m not that person. If I owned any of these cars, they would sit under wraps, the tyres would go flat. They’d begin to get covered in dust and they wouldn’t work when they tried to start them.”
Hill was then quizzed by podcast host Tom Clarkson if there was one car he wish he did own and it came as no surprise to see him name the FW18 as his preferred choice.
“From my perspective if I had my Championship-winning 1996 car, yes, I’d love for that. Zak Brown’s got one but it’s Jacques [Villeneuve]’s car I think, it’s not mine.
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“But if I had that I’d have to have someone looking after it for me. Williams Heritage, they’re out there looking after those things so every now and then I get a chance to drive one but it’s such an extraordinary experience driving that car again.”
Another question put to Hill was how he felt about the ‘X-wings’ which were miniature rear wings above the sidepods and featured on cars in the 1998 season with the idea of improving downforce.
“They look bizarre. There’s lots of appendages that have been put on racing cars that don’t look good, but because there’s a loophole in the rules, the aerodynamicists go ‘oh, we could put a little bit more wing here.’
“So at circuits where drag is not a problem, let’s say Monaco, you just want to get as much downforce as you can. They find every little spot they can and so you see on modern Formula 1 cars, even the wing mirrors are used as an aerodynamic device.
“In terms of whether I felt any difference, I think I felt a drag. I seem to remember feeling with the X-wings that I think it might give me a tiny bit of extra downforce. But not totally convinced, you’re talking tiny amounts really of improvement. And any anytime you’ve put anything that sticks up and out into the airflow of a car, you need more horsepower to match it.”