- October 13 down the years
Hill bows out with a world title
Damon Hill clinched the world title with victory at the Japanese Grand Prix, becoming the sport's first second generation winner following his father Graham's two championships in the 1960s. Hill capitalised on a poor start from pole by Williams team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, and knew the title was his when Villeneuve lost a wheel on the 53rd lap. It was a mixed triumph for Hill - it was his last race for Williams who had already discarded him and it was far from certain he would continue in the sport. Although he had signed for Arrows, the team had no car and no certainty one would be ready for 1997. He admitted this was his last chance for a championship as the next generation were snapping at his heels. "To be honest, it had to be this year for me and I'm really, really delighted," he said. "I knew everyone in the team wanted the win and I wanted to give it to them. I am sorry to be going but what a way to leave."
"If proof were needed that F1 is becoming a television turn- off, yesterday's season-ending Japanese-Grand Prix was the perfect example - a Michael Schumacher masterclass and Ferrari one- two with dramatic content of zero," wrote the Daily Mail. "For a definitive definition of desperation, look no further than FIA president Max Mosley and millionaire F1 string-puller Bernie Ecclestone, who are all too aware that they are presiding over the world's most boring series on four wheels." With TV audiences in freefall, Mosley was only too aware of the crisis. "We have a problem in that people have stopped watching F1 on television.," he admitted. "According to Bernie, it has started to be quite serious and he is getting complaints from TV companies." The race marked the end of a tedious season in which Ferrari won 15 of the 17 grands prix (Schumacher 11, Rubens Barrichello four) including nine one-twos and finished with the same number of constructors' points as all the other teams combined. Schumacher also created another record in that he appeared on the podium at every grand prix. Asked for a solution, Mosley shrugged and suggested driver-swapping, so Schumacher might be put in a Minardi, but admitted: "That's my favourite but I think teams are unlikely to accept."
Patrick Neve had a undistinguished 14-race F1 career which was mainly built on one season as a pay driver with Williams in 1977 where his best result was seventh at the Italian Grand Prix. In 1978 he raised his own funded F2 team but it collapsed before the year was out. His final outing came at the Belgian GP in 1978 where his privately-entered March failed to qualify.
Italian Piero Dusio had the briefest of F1 careers, failing to qualify for the one race he entered, the 1952 Italian GP, although he was 52 at the time. His previous sporting life had been more colourful and included a spell as a footballer with Juventus as well as pre-war racing, the highlights being a sixth-place finish at the 1936 Italian GP and a number of entries in the Mille Miglia. He was behind the development of various Italian racing cars, and when that enterprise failed moved to carry on similar work in Argentina.