The 1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill almost sealed his biggest career win in Hungarian GP on this day in 1997 when his Arrows slowed down few laps before the end of the race due to hidraulic failure and finished second behind his former team-mate Jacques Villeneuve.
After winning the 1996 championship and splitting with Frank Williams, in 1997 Hill drove uncompetitive Arrows with the Yamaha V10 engine and in the first ten races Hill and Diniz won only one point with Hill’s sixth place at Silverstone.
But Arrows suited slow Hungaroring, just like Bridgestone tyres on Arrows, Prost, Minardi and Stewart cars – Hill qualified third, 0.372 seconds behind the fastest Schumacher and 0.185 behind the second placed Villeneuve.
Hill made a great start and leapfrogged Villeneuve for second place, and in the lap 10 he overtook Schumacher on the track on where overtaking is overwhelmingly difficult. In very hot conditions, the Goodyear tyres were graining heavily and Bridgestone’s tyres were much better in such conditions.
Although he led 62 out of 77 laps, the British driver failed to celebrate. In the last few laps he slowed down due to hydraulic problems and was stuck in third gear, so Villeneuve overtook him without any problems and closed the gap to Schumacher to three points since the German finished just fourth.
“The start was pretty bad, so I spent the beginning of the race following the rest, which was good because I kept the tyres in good shape,” said Villeneuve, who won the 100th race for Williams.
“Then I managed to get behind Damon, but he was really flying. I could follow him on the first set of tyres, but as soon as we changed the tyres I did a few slow laps to make sure they would hold on, but they blistered and Damon just disappeared.”
“The team told me that Damon’s time was getting slower, so I started pushing again, and when I got closer he started going right to the left, so I went to the grass where the car was pretty good, after all I had worked on the car’s grip on grass yesterday! ”
VILLENEUVE PASSES HILL