“Grand Prix Year” (Damon Hill with Maurice Hamilton, 1994)

Grand Prix Year, Damon HillThe controversial 1994 season provoked at least two noteworthy ‘insider’ books: Damon Hill’s Grand Prix Year and Steve Matchett’s Life in the Fast Lane.

Together they tell the stories of the two championship-contending teams that year: Williams (Hill) and Benetton (Matchett). And they make for an intriguing comparison with each other.

Interestingly, Hill had intended to uritl a book about his second Grand Prix season even before the infamous events of 1994 unfolded. Grand Prix Year is co- (or ghost-) written by F1 journalist Maurice Hamilton.

The book falls short of its promise though, partly by dint of being on the light side, especially towards the end. There’s not as much context or reflection as in Matchett’s book.

But what it does very effectively is let you see how every part of a racing season, from testing to racing, unfolds from a drivers’ eye view. As obvious as this may sound there are actually very few books that offer this.

Hill is an ideal candidate for the ideal driver to do this – can you imagine such a premise being successful if Kimi Raikkonen were writing it? Hill has a self-deprecating, witty side which makes him easier to relate to as a human and an individual than many other drivers.

Of course the most fascinating part of the book is the events of the terrible San Marino Grand Prix weekend and the consequences of them. As with the rest of the book Hill’s account is frank, albeit brief.

The unique perspective Grand Prix Year gives on a racing season is valuable, but the prose lacks any drama beyond that given to it by events. It’s interesting in parts, and serves the historical record of a turbulent time very well, but is lacking in entertainment value.

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