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Hill’s steep climb to become his own man

india Updated: Feb 10, 2013 00:13 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times
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As far as F1 family trees go, they don't get any chequered than the Hills. The late Graham Hill and son, Damon, are the only father-son duo to win the drivers' championship. Now, it's time for the next generation. Enter Josh Hill.

The 22-year-old looks every bit a Hill - the same angular face, lanky physique, thick eyebrows, and intense brown eyes, which one would associate with his illustrious father or grandfather.

That's where the comparison ends, however, at least for the moment. Not that it's a bad thing - the rookie Englishman wants to create his own identity.

Star family
The star attraction at this weekend's MRF Challenge, more for name than deeds, a slew of journalists inundated him with questions on his father and grandfather. Not that he's the most qualified person to answer that.

He's never seen his father race, in person or even on video.

"I was eight when he retired. I had no interest in F1 at the time. I travelled to a few of the races, but when you're that young you sort of remain in your space," Hill told HT.

But surely, he must have had the temptation to YouTube some of dad's famous moments.

The 1994 Australian GP, when Michael Schumacher rammed his Benneton into Hill's Williams in the season-finale and secured a controversial championship.

Or, Hill getting up on the podium at Suzuka after winning the drivers' title in 1996. Maybe, that classic wet race at Spa in 1998. But pat comes the reply, “If I ever look up racing videos it's mostly of my rivals. I've never watched any of dad's races," he said.

All in the name
No point asking if he'd seen any of granddad's five wins at Monaco, a prolific run that earned him the nickname Mr Monaco.

The youngster, does, however acknowledge the benefits of the Hill surname.

"The family name helps, I can't begin to tell you the sort of attraction it holds in the racing circuit, but at end of the day it's all on me. I have to win races to get to F1," he says.

There are doubters. He didn't graduate from karts, is 22 and has very little experience. Tell him that and he is nonchalant.

But, when your granddad was a former rower who made his F1 debut at 29, and your father a former bike rider whose F1 race debut was at 31, that much is granted!