Damon Hill, son of art and prophet at home. It may not have been celebrated as much as a victory by the ‘modern hero’ Lewis Hamilton, whose media coverage is decidedly higher, but that of July 10 27 years ago was undoubtedly a success that made the future world champion ’96 proud and not a little. Not only because of the circumstances in which he matured, but because he reopened a season that after Schumacher’s poker of victories and the disappearance of Ayrton Senna seemed to be marked for Williams. “I do not know what happened” – Hill said shortly after taking off his helmet that afternoon twenty-four years ago – “It is a dream come true, because that I have won the British Grand Prix: I feel that it has filled the void that my father had left among his records ”.
From the day before, Damon managed to reverse the trend by taking pole just ahead of ‘Schumi’ and the German had to settle for second place even in the race. His joy was short-lived, however, because the Benetton driver overtook Hill twice during the reconnaissance lap, committing an infringement not allowed by the regulations, and it was thus that the race direction imposed a stop and go. However, due to a dispute over the reasons for the penalty between the Benetton wall and the stewards, Schumacher was not allowed back and continued to stay on the track. Several laps later the black flag and the ‘Kaiser’, despite having subsequently served the stop and go, was excluded at the end of the Grand Prix. In his place on the virtual podium of that race, the award ceremony took place before the disqualification, Mika Hakkinen climbed, while Jean Alesi became second. For the German also the mockery of a fine of 25,000 dollars.
“I was told about the five second penalty just before my first pit stop” – Schumacher explained – “I realized that time would be added at the end of the race, which seemed a bit odd, then I was told to go in for a stop and go penalty, which I did. It’s a shame, because I think we could have continued our fight. Congratulations to Damon Hill and Williams, they ran a good race ”. Celebrating his first career win in F1 at Silverstone, the British driver admitted that: “Michael’s penalty was a godsend for us. But I still think it would have been a tight race anyway ”.
Which turned out to be a godsend, Hill and Williams will surely have thought of it later when the FIA World Council he decided to sanction the Benetton driver with two stop Grands Prix. Disqualification races that allowed Graham’s son to reduce the gap in the standings from his rival and that the Enstone team decided to skid to Monza and Estoril to allow Schumacher to participate in the Hockenheim home GP. A race where, paradoxically, neither Michael nor Damon managed to get a points finish.