>All the signs were there.
>The France/England GP issue of "rallye racing" (a German
>motorsports mag) had a three page article headlined "Winner on
>the ejector seat?" about DH's contractual situation. The key
>problems were identified as his high salary demands and the
>remarkably low opinion his team bosses appeared to have of their
The *previous* year, when HHF was actually signed, Hill's stock at Williams
was at an all-time low. However, in 1996, when it was too late because they
had already signed HHF, Hill's stock rose a lot, and in Japan was very high
due to his very convincing win when all he *had* to do was finish *anywhere*
in the points.
>The article wrote about a rumored 30 million DM = 12 M UKP that
>DH had asked for (later confirmed to be 25 million = 10 M UKP).
As you rightly stated, 'rumoured'... How was it confirmed? Neither
Williams nor Hill have ever spoken to the press about actual figures. The
press makes it up as they go - everyone knows that...
>And both Head and Williams had stated in interviews that "the
>victories were down to the invincible car", in direct response
>to Hill's comments which suggested otherwise . On top of that,
>the article also mentioned that 'insiders' already predicted
>Frentzen would be driving for Williams in '97.
There have been no interviews published in the UK where either Head or
Williams has said any such thing, but there have been many where both stated
their high regard for Hill's testing and racing abilities, and FW is even on
record as saying that if it hadn't been for 1995 season, Hill would still
have been driving for them. Both are on record too as agreeing that money
had *never* been discussed during the 'negotiations' [sic] with Hill for
1997, and FW even said that the whole process had been a blind to prevent
Hill moving (when seats were still available) to a top level team (Sunday
>(BTW, the same issue wrote that Newey was sick of being in
>Head's shadow and was looking for a new challenge)
>While Craig Pollock was busy talking to people in the Paddock --
>Villeneuve apparently didn't have a contract -- neither Williams
>nor Hill seemed to have any desire to get contract talks going.
>Hill felt too save, and overestimated his market value; a 25
>million DM salary was simply too high -- especially when
>considering that Berger offered to drive the Williams for free!
Again the rumour of his retainer expectations is just speculation and
hyperbole. As far as Hill was concerned he had won the Championship for
Williams and had no need to look elsewhere for a ride. Unfortunately and
unknown to him, their decision had already been made, the year before, when
they signed HHF.
>After several meetings to no avail in preceding weeks, Frank
>Williams made a final offer at the Belgian GP (no details are
>known), which DH refused to sign. An 'important team member'
>(which IMHO appears to be Newey) was quoted as "I think Hill
>made a mistake by not signing today".
No offer was ever actually made by FW. Money hadn't been discussed. FW's
'talks' with Hill up to that point had been disingenuous by his own
Quote from Autocourse for 1996 season - "...on the Wednesday following the
Belgian GP, Frank Williams [who had called Michael Breen, Hill's lawyer]...
...said he was withdrawing fro negotiations over Hill's possible contract
for 1997... ...assuring the lawyer that his decision to terminate talks had
nothing to do with money, Williams declined to declined to elaborate on the
reasons behind his decision..."
>Three days later, an annoyed FW broke off the negotiations.
>Four days after that, a disillusioned Hill informed the media.
Any discussions with Williams, according to Autocourse, only began on about
the 14th August, and were terminated abruptly by FW on August 28th. FW was
far from annoyed, he was actually embarrassed.
>Damon Hill shared the fate of legends Alain Prost and Nigel
>Mansell; for the third time in a row, a reigning world champion
>left the British team.
During the short negotiations, FW had assured Hill, according to Autocourse,
that should Hill win the Championship he would still be driving for Williams
the following year.
Again, the issue was *not* money, but a lack of confidence in Hill's
abilities at the end of 1995, when most F1 commentators agree that HHF was
signed to Williams at the Japanese GP that year.