Damon Hill (tucked in behind Michael Schumacher) would take the Arrows team the closest it would ever come to a race win

The ‘moral winner’ can often be quite distinct from the actual race-winner, and Formula 1 is littered with hard-luck stories of drivers robbed of race victories by one such calamity or other.

Today we celebrate such an example. It was a race that was shortlisted in our ‘Top 10 Last Lap Wins’ countdown: the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix, which occurred on this day fifteen years ago.

Hill forces his way past Schumacher to take the leadThe blisteringly hot temperatures gave the grid’s few Bridgestone runners a leg up in competitiveness and suddenly Damon Hill – the defending champion in the little-fancied Arrows – was right up there, qualifying a tremendous third.

On a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult, Hill made a good start to take second at Turn 1, and on lap 11 he forced his way past race leader Michael Schumacher.

Hill dominated the race until disaster struck in the final laps...Running untroubled almost to the end of the race, Hill had built up a lead of 35 seconds. But with three lap to run, his Arrows faltered: a hydraulics problem was affecting his throttle and gearshift.

He limped around the circuit losing twenty-seven seconds to Jacques Villeneuve in the next two laps, before the Canadian shot by on the final lap to take a surprise win. Damon stuttered home in second place, having come just a few miles short of taking Arrows’ first-ever win on its 299th Grand Prix.

The team would never win a race.

1997 Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (77 laps):

Driver Team Laps Result Grid
1. Jacques Villeneuve CAN Williams Renault FW19 77 1:45:47.149 2
2. Damon Hill GBR Arrows Yamaha A18 77 + 9.079 3
3. Johnny Herbert GBR Sauber Petronas C16 77 + 20.445 10
4. Michael Schumacher DEU Scuderia Ferrari F310B 77 + 30.501 1
5. Ralf Schumacher DEU Jordan Peugeot 197 77 + 30.715 14
6. Shinji Nakano JPN Prost Mugen-Honda JS45 77 + 41.512 16
7. Jarno Trulli ITA Prost Mugen-Honda JS45 77 + 1:15.552 12
8. Gerhard Berger AUT Benetton Renault B197 77 + 1:16.409 7
9. Eddie Irvine GBR Scuderia Ferrari F310B 76 Accident 5
10. Ukyo Katayama JPN Minardi Hart M197 76 1 lap behind 20
11. Jean Alesi FRA Benetton Renault B197 76 1 lap behind 91
12. Tarso Marques BRA Minardi Hart M197 75 2 laps behind 22
13. Mika Salo FIN Tyrrell Ford 025 75 2 laps behind 21
DNF. David Coulthard GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4/12 65 Alternator 8
DNF. Jos Verstappen NED Tyrrell Ford 025 61 Hydraulics 18
DNF. Pedro Diniz BRA Arrows Yamaha A18 53 Alternator 19
DNF. Giancarlo Fisichella ITA Jordan Peugeot 197 42 Spin 13
DNF. Heinz-Harald Frentzen DEU Williams Renault FW19 29 Fuel valve 6
DNF. Rubens Barrichello BRA Stewart Ford SF1 29 Engine 11
DNF. Mika Häkkinen FIN McLaren Mercedes MP4/12 12 Hydraulics 4
DNF. Gianni Morbidelli ITA Sauber Petronas C16 7 Engine 15
DNF. Jan Magnussen DEN Stewart Ford SF1 5 Damage 17
Heinz-Harald Frentzen DEU Williams Renault FW19 25 1:18.372  

A double-billing of F1 and V8s at Abu Dhabi!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.