Damon Hill Press Conference, Magny Cours ======================================== Damon : "As my statement said, I have enjoyed racing in F1 but there comes a time for everyone, and that time has come for me, when that enjoyment factor has ...
Damon Hill Press Conference, Magny Cours ========================================
Damon : "As my statement said, I have enjoyed racing in F1 but there comes a time for everyone, and that time has come for me, when that enjoyment factor has decreased sufficiently for me to decide that it is affecting my performance. Perhaps making this announcement might give me a breathing space to enjoy what is left of the season - I certainly hope so and intend to give everything I have got. There is no single reason for my decision - there are many. I did not jump to this conclusion."
When did you decide?
"I decided when I made the decision to make the announcement. Up until then I hadn't made the decision. That time was Tuesday after Canada. Up until then I was in two minds. But you can't be a racing driver and be in two minds about things. It is a mounting pressure from within and a question I asked myself many times 'When am I going to call it a day because you can't go on doing this forever.' I have made it clear before that if I wasn't enjoying it and I did not think I could be competitive it would be time to stop and I think those two criteria have been met this year."
Thoughts for the future - 'Can you live without racing?'
"I don't know the answer. On the way here it was a beautiful day and I wondered whether it would be nice to do skydiving maybe (don't tell my wife!). You do need something to look forward to and to give you a thrill in life. GP racing and motor racing has been my objective from as early as I can remember. First time I rode a motorbike I wanted to race and I devoted nearly all my energies to pursuing that single goal. All I can say is that I actually got to the very top of my chosen profession and have many victories. It is not something I ever expected to happen in my career. I hoped it would happen and I set off with the intention simply of doing as well as I could. I had some very good opportunities and I made the best of them. So the objectives were satisfied. To just carry on racing doesn't satisfy me. I got a massive thrill out of being in the lead of races - I guess I have been spoilt a little bit. Whilst I still have an urge and would dearly love to be in a position to race at the front again, I can see that this season, whilst it might not be impossible (we won last year with a less competitive car), the number of times that might be achievable is fewer than I want to pursue. It is difficult to enjoy your profession if you are not being successful at it.
"The amount of testing has been a factor in my decision. The number of days I have been away has tipped the balance between what I believe is acceptable for my family in terms of my duties as a father, and carrying on. There is an element there which has sapped my desire to continue."
Is there a likelihood of you trying any other motor racing (Indy Cars, Champ Cars)
"No there is not. I regard F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport. The strength and depth of talent and professionalism is greater than in any other category of motor sport, so it is difficult to do something less when you have done something like this. That is how I regard F1 - it is not to be rude or degenerate Indy Cars. Also, logistically, I do not want to move the family again."
Do you not have the same motivation?
"Motivation is a byproduct of an opportunity to do better. I can't see myself being able to do better at the moment. I am trying my best and I can't do better than I am doing. The chemical reaction or whatever it is not happening. There is no question of commitment. I have trained very hard, right through the winter, done all the tests, and I set out with my heart and my hopes and intentions high, and yet despite that I cannot get what I want out of the car and can't get the best out of myself. Motivation is not an issue - I don't know how better to explain it."
Did you consider stopping now?
"Naturally I had considered that. But I considered stopping a number of times in my career. There have been a lot of low points but if I stopped at all the low points I came across I would never have been world champion. It is not in my nature to throw in the towel in the heat of the moment. I like to think about it and carry on. It may well be that that might have to happen - I don't know but I hope not. It is not something I want to entertain.
"One of the reasons I made the announcement was to make it clear where I stand. I wanted to make it plain to Eddie, everyone in the Jordan team, the sponsors and the public, that I see an end at the end of this year. I do not want to damage in any way Eddie's hopes of securing his highest ever constructors' Championship position. If my performances are not up to it then of course we will have to discuss it, but that is certainly not my intent. For the sake of good relations with Eddie I have always been very open with him and we have had pretty open discussions all this season."
To what extent does the nature of the modern car affect your decision?
"I am not enamoured with the regulations as they stand, but I don't want to sound like I am making excuses. Other drivers cope with the regulations quite satisfactorily. It is not something which I want to make a big issue about."
Did Heinz-Harald's form influence you decision?
"I think Heinz has been absolutely brilliant this year. It is a real shame about what happened in Canada. But for him, Eddie would not be where he is in the Championship. I have never really been outpaced on a regular basis by my team mate in the past and so I look to myself more than to what Heinz is doing. Heinz is doing what is expected and I have done less than that, so I am more disappointed with my own performance."
Did you think about keeping your decision to yourself until the end of the year?
"No, I feel better about revealing what is in my mind. As time goes by now it will not be a topic for conversation quite so much. We know where we stand and you will now count me out of your 'who goes where conversations'. I did not want to invite continual speculation which would have been an unfair and misleading distraction."
In the future…?
"I would love to be involved in F1 in some way. It is an amazing spectacle. But I would like to spend more time at home. F1 is an area where I believe I have quite a lot of expertise and I have a lot experience to put to good use, but we will have to see in what capacity I might be involved."
Steven D Scott Website - http://www.damonhill.net Peterculter E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org Scotland Nickname - "calibrax"