|Watching the Wheels, by Damon Hill|
|© 2016 Pan MacMillan, ISBN 9781509831913 (Paperback)|
While the merits and achievements of every Formula 1 driver can be debated until the end of time, there’s no doubting that every single driver has a unique story to tell on how they got to race on the world’s greatest state.
In the case of 1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill, few stories could possibly rival his.
Currently the sport’s only second-generation World Champion (until Nico Rosberg almost certainly joins his ranks this year), Damon’s journey to Formula 1 came in the wake of family tragedy following the death of his two-time World Championship-winning father Graham – along with a number of members of his eponymous racing team – in a light airplane crash when Damon was just in his teens.
The Hill family was almost bankrupted by the fallout of the crash, and the young Damon showed little interest in following in his father’s footsteps until his twenties when he started racing motorcycles. The switch to four-wheeled competition proved tough, and despite his famous surname, working his way up the ladder to Formula 1 was a hard graft indeed.
Published to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of his 1996 title victory, Working the Wheels tells a story that will surprise many motorsport fans.
It opens with the candid and stunning revelation of his struggle with depression after retiring from Formula 1, precipitated by the overwhelming fear that he would follow his father to an early grave in his final year of competitive racing.
There are many parallels drawn with his father: both starting racing at comparatively older ages and there was the perception that neither was naturally talented. It’s a view he agrees with, one of many refreshing revelations as he recalls his life story so far.
Extensive pages are devoted to two central moments: his longstanding rivalry with Michael Schumacher and the death of his teammate Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Having driven the same car that was the scene of the legendary Brazilian’s death at Imola, he writes with detail in discounting the theory that a broken steering column caused the triple champion’s sudden death.
While many driver stories are fairly bland ghost-written affairs, fans have been blessed with a recent run of more candid reads. Hill’s effort follows the outstanding autobiography penned by Mark Webber, with a nuanced yet well-rounded production that is a truly compelling read which is told with refreshing candour and honesty.
Watching the Wheels: My Autobiography is currently available at major book resellers. Our review copy was kindly provided to us by Pan MacMillan Australia.
Image via Motorsport.com