Damon Hill OBE is the star of Autosport International this weekend, where he is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his 1996 F1 World Championship win with thousands of fans at the NEC.
Hill, who will be appearing at Autosport International today and Sunday 17th January, opened the NEC event earlier this morning with Petter Solberg, cutting the ribbon in front of many eager motorsport fans.
He was reunited with his Williams FW18 racing car on the Williams stand – the same car that took him to his 1996 victory and one of the most successful F1 cars in history. Hill will be appearing on the Autosport Stage over the course of Saturday and Sunday, and will be taking part in several autograph signing sessions.
One of the most-loved British racing drivers ever, Hill got his first Formula 1 race seat with Brabham in 1992, but it is Williams with whom he is most associated – and thanks to a unique Williams celebration feature, Autosport International will be reuniting Hill with not only his championship-winning car but also some key members of the Williams team too.
Having tested for Sir Frank Williams’ famous racing team in 1991, Hill was given a race seat in 1993, alongside Alain Prost, before partnering Ayrton Senna in 1994, that fateful year in which the Brazilian lost his life at the San Marino Grand Prix.
Hill’s battles with Michael Schumacher that same season are the stuff of legend – most notably the infamous crash in Adelaide, in which he was pipped to the title by just one point – but it all came together in 1996 when Hill became World Champion at the Japanese Grand Prix.
That season, the Williams-Renault FW18 took 12 wins from 16 races (eight in Hill’s hands, four in those of team-mate Jacques Villeneuve) and is statistically the most successful Williams Formula 1 car of all time, scoring 175 points – the most in a season under the old scoring system.
Visitors to Autosport International will be able to see the FW18 up close – and a host of other Williams F1 cars from the past four decades. Among a feast of never-before-seen exhibits, the focal point will be a revamped Autosport Stage which will feature the eight-metre-tall Williams Martini Racing motorhome constructed immediately next to it – the first time it has been erected outside of a racing circuit.
Tickets for Autosport International are still available, log on to www.autosportinternational.com.