The countdown is on to the 2023 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix with Network 10 welcoming 1996 Formula 1 World Champion, and internationally renowned broadcaster Damon Hill to the on-air commentary team.
Hill brings a wealth of Formula 1 experience to the broadcast, with 42 podiums, 22 career wins - including taking the top step at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix twice - plus a World Championship. With over 20 years of broadcast experience, Hill is one of the most respected and well-known Formula 1 pundits in the world.
Damon Hill’s Career
There were certainly plenty of highlights throughout your career, could you pinpoint one special moment that surpasses them all?
DH: Winning the World Championship
Which track did you find the toughest throughout your career?
Which track did you enjoy most throughout your career?
You have experienced victories in the Australian Grand Prix at both Adelaide and Melbourne – How did the two tracks compare? Did you prefer one over the other?
DH: Melbourne had a nice flow to it. Adelaide was quite bumpy with high kerbs that could catch you out. I liked both tracks. They have been good to me in different ways.
You were locked in some quite intense battles throughout your career with fellow world class drivers. Were there any particular rivalries that you enjoyed most?
DH: I think I enjoyed being team mates to Jacques Villeneuve the most. He was a good sport.
Lastly, we have seen some special bonds created between the current generation of drivers. Did you forge any long lasting relationships with any of your competitors?
DH: Not really. They all seem to live in Monaco. Mostly my friends were those who I raced in Fomula 3 with on the way up. Johnny Herbert being the most notable because we worked together for a long time with Sky F1. There is a degree of comradery with my contemporaries, David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen and a few others.
What were some of the standout moments from last season for you?
DH: Silverstone was a great race. Plenty of drama. As for the rest of the season Max was so dominant that all you could do was marvel at his use of the Red Bull.
What was your take on last season with the new regulations that attempted to even out the playing field?
DH: It was good in some respects. The cars seemed able to get closer in corners which was part of the aim. Buy they are too big and heavy. We need to fix this.
How does Verstappen compare to the drivers of your era? Why do you think he has been so successful?
DH: Max has a no-nonsense team around him. He is not distracted and remains able to see clearly what needs to be done. He’s still developing but he’s fundamentally very very fast. And uncompromising. Reminds me a bit of Schumacher.
The Season Ahead
What are you most looking forward to this season?
DH: Well now we’ve had one race, I’m looking forward to a race!
Which constructor do you think will be the surprise package this year?
DH: Well there are surprises and disappointments. Clearly Aston are the big surprise but it is also a surprise that Red Bull have found so much dominance. The disappointment is clearly Mercedes.
Which driver do you think will standout this season?
DH: We always love Fernando’s (Alonso) determination and perseverance. He is very witty too. But you have to wait and see how the others develop. Some of the rookies have a lot of promise. Piastri is clearly one.
What’s your favourite track in the F1 calendar? No pressure if it’s not Albert Park haha..
DH: I love Albert Park’s relaxed atmosphere. The fans are so up for everything. The whole vibe is how we like it. But we have so many great venues now. I have to say Silverstone. No place like home.
After dominating for such a long period of time, how do you think Mercedes should get themselves out of their current predicament?
DH: They have to swallow some humble pie and admit they got it wrong. I think Toto has as much admitted as much. Then you can make some headway.
What must Ferrari do to take it to the next level up and keep the heat on Red Bull?
DH: Believe in themselves a bit more. It always looks like they are frightened of success.
As a former World Champion, what are some of the main indicators that you look out for in a race that spectators may generally overlook?
DH: Its like Murray Walker always used to say; “Watch the gap!” by which I mean rate of loss or gain with each car to those in front or behind. It’s a long game a GP. It usually comes to a critical point in the last third with tyres going off.
Focus on Australia..
What’s your assessment of Oscar Piastri? How do you think he will perform in his debut F1 season?
DH: Very impressed with his maturity out of the car. Seems capable in the car. Yet to see flashes of brilliance but it’s far too early. He will have a lot of pressure in Aus. But Mark Webber will be able to steer him through all that expectation.
What do you make of Daniel Ricciardo’s last few years on the circuit? Do you think that he will be able to force his way back onto the grid in the future?
DH: It’s a total mystery to me what happened. I wish I knew. He may get another chance. If Hulkenberg can keep getting another go, there is still time for Daniel. But he has to re-focus and come back as changed driver. Someone we don’t already know.
Talk us through Albert Park, which drivers do you think it favours ahead of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix?
DH: I don’t think it favours any driver particularly. You have to be precise and get out of slow corners well. Fernando is good at that! It’s a bit like Canada, slippery with the need to be late on the brakes and not make mistakes because you slide so much.
Finally, what advice do you have for the next generation of F1 stars breaking into the sport?
DH: Do your home work. Its all about preparation. And smile. But not too much! And put your phones away.