Damon Hill, HRH the Duke of Kent, Stuart Rolt and Richard Phillips

Damon Hill to step down as BRDC president

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Damon Hill, HRH the Duke of Kent, Stuart Rolt and Richard Phillips
Damon Hill, HRH the Duke of Kent, Stuart Rolt and Richard Phillips

Damon Hill will resign his position as head of the British Racing Drivers’ Club in August.

Hill has been president of the BRDC since 2006. In his time the circuit has signed a new, 17-year deal to host the British Grand Prix.

Extensive renovations have been made to the circuit including a new section of track used for the first time last year and the Silverstone Wing pit and paddock complex.

Hill said: “It has been a great privilege and honour to serve as BRDC President since 2006.

“As a club and business, we can be immensely proud of everything we have achieved for British motor sport over the past few years. The BRDC and Silverstone face a stable and exciting future, so the timing is right for me to hand over the reins and devote more time to my family, my own interests, and the racing career of our son, Josh.

“However, I remain a committed member of the BRDC and look forward to watching the club go from strength to strength.”

BRDC chairman Stuart Rolt said: “I cannot speak highly enough of the superb work that Damon has carried out since his appointment as BRDC President.

“We owe him an immense debt of gratitude for the commitment and energy he has put into being the public face of the Club, and therefore Silverstone, at times of uncertainty and then great optimism.

“We will miss his low-key, no-nonsense approach to life, and wish him all the best.”

BRDC board director Derek Warwick will stand as a candidate to replace Hill as President, and has the unanimous support of the BRDC board.

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  • 59 comments on “Damon Hill to step down as BRDC president”

    1. Damon has done a brilliant job of representing the BRDC’s interests and protecting the British Grand Prix. Well done to him and best of luck in everything he does in the future.

      1. Here, Here

    2. In his time the circuit has signed a new, 17-year deal to host the British Grand Prix.

      But not before jeopardising the entire future of the British Grand Prix. When first Silverstone and then Donington lost the race, there was a very real chance that the British Grand Prix would be dropped.

      I always thought the BRDC only ever cared about the history of the British Grand Prix rather than the future of it.

      1. You would need to take a rather perverse view of events to blame Hill for that, rather than Simon Gillett or Bernie Ecclestone.

        1. Agreed. Far from putting the race at risk he did a magnificent job of picking up the pieces when there was a real risk of loosing the race.

        2. Hill played his part. How many times did Silverstone announce plans for a pitlane upgrade, only for it to come to naught? Ecclestone made his expectations quite clear from the outset when it came time to renew the contract. One has to wonder why he spent his time trying to haggle with Bernie instead of finding new ways of funding the race. Like I said, the BRDC was more concerned with the history of the race rather than its future. Bernie Ecclestone and Simon Gillet might deserve more of the blame for jeopardising the race – but without Hill doing his part first, the situation never would have gotten to that point.

          1. I’ve been a vocal critic of the BRDC for exactly the reasons you cite, but the rot started way before Hill, in the days of Jackie Stewart’s presidency and possibly some of his predecessors too. It was obvious that the BRDC were intent on maintaining their privileged position within F1, whereby Silverstone was allowed to pay much less than any other venue for its GP, despite having much worse facilities.

            What Bernie was trying to do was improve at least one of these two things, yet for some reason many people seemed to think that was always apparently totally unreasonable and the BRDC were heroes. It was a warped view then and remains so now.

            1. Because Bernie is always the villain regardless of what actually happens. Silverstone had worse facilities than Interlagos, and everyone assumed Bernie simply wanted more fantastical architecture to look good on television – but the teams were reporting that the pits were in such bad shape that they regularly flooded. McLaren (or maybe Ferrari) once paved their garage with marble floors. People thought it was just the excesses of Formula 1, but it was actually designed to raise the level of the floor and prevent flooding.

              For five or six years before the contract was renewed, Silverstone annoucned a brand-new pit upgrade every other year, an upgrade that would have preserved the circuit’s position on the calendar and guaratee the future of the British Grand Prix. But none of the planned upgrades ever happened; indeed, I suspect that each of the upgrades was simply the same upgrade each time. There are serious questions to be asked about how the situation ever got to that point. Damon Hill is portrayed as the hero who won Silverstone the rights to the British Grand Prix for two decades – but it didn’t happen until Bernie lit a fire under the BRDC’s belly. And he gets cast as the villain? Not fair.

          2. And how well are all those other institutions that hold F1 races without any government support doing?

            Oh wait, there aren’t any.

            1. And how well are all those other institutions that hold F1 races without any government support doing?

              And how many of those other institutions are have been playing chicken with Bernie when Bernie is driving a Mack truck and they are riding a tricycle and towing a caravan full of raw sewage?

            2. well said! bernie dropped Spa when they didn’t put up the cash so even the greatest circuit on the calendar was not immune. The BRDC has to struggle every year to provide a venue which can hold huge events like F1 right through to tiny events like formula student vet still remain viable. In this economic climate, that is nothing short of a miracle. Well done Damon and your team.

            3. bernie dropped Spa when they didn’t put up the cash so even the greatest circuit on the calendar was not immune.

              Except that Hill was more interested in getting a discount than saving the race. Even when Bernie said he would not make a lower offer, the BRDC still worked on trying to get a discount because they were more interested in the history of the race and not the future of it.

            4. Mouse_Nightshirt
              7th June 2011, 16:14

              Except that Hill was more interested in getting a discount than saving the race.

              Which, for some reason, you seem to imply they are unrelated.

              A discount was, for quite some time, integral to making the grand prix viable.

            5. A discount was, for quite some time, integral to making the grand prix viable.

              This is true. However, Hill insisted on trying to negotiate a larger discount for some time after Bernie made his final offer.

            6. How many other tracks have been playing chicken with Bernie? Most of the non-Tilke ones, through sheer financial necessity.

            7. As for angling for a discount after Bernie’s “final offer”, Bernie has previous on not sticking to his offers (in both directions) and the BRDC obviously didn’t think that the “final offer” was viable. It was only after the chicken/egg situation regarding the local government, Bernie and the pit complex finally got resolved on attempt 5. I still have the race programme from 2002 detailing what I think was attempt 2. That foundered because the government would only invest in the road rather than the facility to which it led).

              When the local government agreed to put a relatively small amount of money in to support grassroots racing (smaller than the requested discount but importantly in one lump sum), part of that was used to create the new facilities for all formulae to use.

        3. Yeah, its not as if Bernie was not looking at a chance of dropping Silverstone for years before that Gillet deal.

          1. It was always a bit of chicken and egg with Silverstone, They had various plans for pit and paddock upgrades over the years but couldn’t get funding for the project unless the future of the GP was secured, Bernie wouldn’t guarantee the future of the race without upgrades to the pit and paddock complex.

            It wasn’t until Silverstone won the MotoGP race that they could get the funding required and once the upgrades had commenced and the Donnington project reached it’s inevitable end that Bernie had to choose to either drop the British GP entirely or move it back to Silverstone.

            1. Bernies obsession with glamour, billionaires and Royalty ( of any kind ) might be good TV but does nothing for the racing, real fans don’t need luxurious grandstands and gourmet restaurants and it’s the real fans tickets that subsidise the cost of these “look at me” facilities. Well done Damon for fighting and winning.

            2. This.

              I don’t know if Red Andy and Prisoner Monkeys have read the Bernie Ecclestone book, but whilst Silverstone did try to take the mick ultimately there was never enough of a guaranteed investment to do the things he wanted Silverstone to do.

              Silverstone is the only race out of 20 on the calendar not to be funded by a government and hey presto, it’s one of the actually posting a profit. What a bunch of incompetent nincompoops the BRDC are.

            3. I’m not saying that Damon Hill is without his strong points. But he committed a critical error when he insisted on trying to bargain Bernie down even after Bernie had made his final offer.

            4. PM, you can have a viable, self financed, non government F1 circuit and give in to Bernie… It doesn’t work.

              Look at it this way.
              Silverstone is on the calender,
              It’s run independently,
              They make a profit,
              They don’t require government support,
              They do not pay stupidly high fees to Bernie.

              To me, it looks like Damon is a Hero of British motorsport.

            5. PM, you can have a

              It’s meant to be “you can’t”.

        4. I blamed Jackie Stewart personally

      2. Prisoner Monkeys tries yet another archly affected look-at-me contrarian messageboard gambit, miscalculates, over-stretches wildly, gets called out, scrambles furiously in a flurry of replies trying to salvage credibility, without looking like a climb-down, fails.

        Cheap valueless criticism based on naive fantasy island economics, criticism of people that have to actually make hard real-world decisions, based on unforgiving real-world economics, real world resources, obligations, and real world profit and loss … not everything in life is as easy, and consequence-free as anonymously hitting “Submit Comment” and sending another insubstantial turdlet of vacuous HTML based negativity into the ether.

        1. “Insubstantial turdlet of vacuous HTML based negativity” is my comment of the day, hands down. Just hopefully not down into the turdlet – I’m a parent, and trust me, it’s not pleasant.

        2. Wish I had said that.

      3. You did a very good job in tricky circumstances Damon and you should be rightly proud.

        After reading these comments I haven’t got the faintest idea what PM is going on about.

        The BRDC is a backwards organisation but that isn’t his fault and indeed he has done much to begin to turn it in the right direction these last five years, securing a 17 year deal without any government support whilst doing so.

    3. Well done Damon. He has secured the future of the British GP and he has overseen the much needed update of the Silverstone circuit. He showed good leadership, there was no nonsense and he just got on with it, top quality. The BRDC is far better off now than it was when he took the reigns.

      1. I’m certainly not an expert but I guess he did a good job.

    4. I certainly think Hill did a great job. Got the MotoGP contract in, regained the F1 contract for 10 years. Made a well needed and very nicely done (so far) revamp of the circuit happen.

      Yep, job done thanks Damon. Great to see he is not sticking to the chair and allows himself a change of perspective and others a chance to take it forward.

      A good F1 driver, worthy champion and moving on to be a real asset to british racing!

      1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s rare in his country people stand down from a high position without some sort of scandal involved!

        Really jealous of those folks who will be at Silverstone this year, for any event. It looks fantastic and I had a wonderful experience there last year. It was great to see the area around Club under such intense development. Putting people in jobs is great, especially these days.

        Well done Damon!

        Does anyone know what category/ies his son races in? Perhaps just karting if he’s not very old.

        1. Josh is in his first season of Formula Renault 2.0 at the moment, racing for Manor. He’s currently 6th in the championship after a consistent run of points-scoring results. The only Manor driver ahead of him in the table (Ollie Millroy) is in his second year in Formula Renault.

      2. Hill is a remarkable man. Consider the things he’s gone through:

        – Absentee father
        – Dead father
        – Near-penury
        – Scrimped and saved to start career
        – Test drive with Williams rewarded with a full-time seat
        – Carried Williams after Senna’s death and nearly won 1994 championship against superior Benetton
        – Had a difficult 1995, hounded by press, but didn’t quit
        – Won 1996 championship despite his team acting and then telling him they didn’t want him
        – Tried to make something of Arrows and nearly got their only victory
        – Won Jordan’s first victory
        – Helped save the British Grand Prix on a basis that was sustainable for Silverstone

        1. Tried to make something of Arrows and nearly got their only victory

          I wouldn’t phrase it like that. While Hill did indeed try to make something of Arrows, I don’t think he ever consciously got to a point in his career where he decided “You know what? I’d like to have a go in the Arrows”. He was there because Williams drove him out and there was nowhere else to go. Arrows was the lesser evil at the time. Once he was there, he gave it his all, but the way you describe it sort of suggests that Arrows had always been a part of Hill’s plan.

          1. Didn’t he turn down a seat at Ferrari and McLaren because they were offering next to nothing monetary wise? I believe that was one of the main reasons for joining Arrows.

            Come on get your facts right if your going to make these comments.

            1. Hill didn’t have many options by mid-1996 when it was revealed he wasn’t going to be re-signed by Williams.

              Ferrari was Michael Schumacher’s domain. McLaren and Benetton already had drivers under contract – Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard and Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi respectively. If offers were made they probably weren’t serious.

              His realistic options were essentially Jordan, Sauber, Tyrrell or Arrows. My understanding was that Jordan made a reasonable offer, but Arrows offered more – and Tom Walkinshaw promised more in terms of car development.

              At the time, Walkinshaw had big plans for Arrows. He recruited John Barnard as designer and was promising extra investment. Whereas at that point Jordan’s progress towards the front of the grid was generally considered to have stalled.

        2. “Won Jordan’s first victory”

          Ralf Schumacher would disagree and so would many others.

          1. Maybe if Ralf had been faster earlier in the weekend (something Ian Phillips suggested was due to insufficient effort in a free practice commentary in 2009), he wouldn’t have been behind Damon when it was too wet for any pass of his to have been successful. Damon was aware of it, the people on the pitwall saw that too, so they made sure Ralf didn’t do something that would have had a high chance of causing a double DNF.

            1. We currently see the result of Frank Williams contempt for his drivers. As ye sow,so shall ye reap says the good book.

    5. HounslowBusGarage
      7th June 2011, 13:15

      I think he’s done a good job too, and I wonder what his plans for the future are. It will be very satisying for him to see the new pits used at the GP in July, a great way to bow out.
      Josh Hill is in his first full year of Formula Renault – he’s 20 already.

    6. There is not as much free money in England, as you will find in some other countries, hence the difficulty of upholding the standards of the Silverstone circuit.
      But Hill didn’t just act desperately. He took his time to secure the long term future of the circuit, with a sensible approach, rather than some over night idea, some other circuit wanted to use.
      In my opinion, I think he delivered, and I must admit that he does know a little more about management than I initially assumed he did.

    7. He’s a true gent though and through.

      1. through and through is what i meant of course!

    8. Cheers Damon for making sure the Silverstone GP will be on for many more years to come! :D

    9. Bernie played the politics game with Silverstone. Guess what? Damon did, too.

      Worked out for the both of them.

    10. Mouse_Nightshirt
      7th June 2011, 16:16

      Hill is a remarkable fellow. Maybe not the finest racer, but he really does care about British motorsport. Kudos to him. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours. Here’s to hoping he’ll never go bald either!

    11. Stephen Higgins
      7th June 2011, 19:14

      Arise Sir Damon ??

      1. I think so, his services to British motorsport have been great.

    12. Damon Hill is the only driver I know of who looked like a complete dweeb while driving in F1, but then looked like a total badass after retiring.

      Though in that latest image he looks a bit like a professor of literature…

    13. Wow can’t belive it. He looks so old!! Time really flys by.

      1. He is 50, after all.

        1. Damon said in a F1 Racing Q&A session last year that he started getting grey hair in his teens. As a result, when he stopped racing and opted to show his natural hair colour, the change was rather sudden…

    14. I don’t care for Damon Hill in any way, and it’s one of the few subjects Michael Schumacher and I would probably agree on.

      But I dislike the BRDC too and these two were just made for each other.

      1. Fair enough, but why don’t you care for Damon Hill in any way?

        1. It’s not so much a slight against him, it’s just that he was fortunate to get where he did with Williams (and Newey no less), but that happens.

          Mostly it’s because he was the primary factor in Schumacher’s formative seasons to becoming who he did.
          Senna struck.
          Mansell left.
          Häkkinen coming to form in a lesser car in a few forgettable seasons.
          HHF not in any of these seats.
          Irvine taking up space in a top seat.

          Not a time I look back upon with any nostalgia until 1998 at least.

      2. James Whiteley
        7th June 2011, 22:48

        Why?

    15. I guess Damon worked hard for Silverstone & worked well which gained a lot of respect. Wish him all the best for his life after retirement.

    16. Spot on hohum. who gives a dam about the facilities. I goto see racing not be swooshed around an indoor shopping complex. Cheese sandwiches, a beer and a fold away chair is all you need. The rest im afraid is bernies obsessiveness. No facility matters a dam if its empty.

      Well done Hill, hes a much under rated national treasure and he leaves the BRDC in better shape than he found it whatever the trials and tribulations along the way which are frankly irrelevant. Churchill may have won the 2nd World War but he nearly lost it first. Should we consider Churchill a failure?

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