Obituary: John Hill

John Peter Hill, powerboat driver and sign-writer: born Cheltenham 18 November 1933; married (one son, one daughter); died Abu Dhabi 16 April 1993.

JOHN HILL was one of the world's greatest powerboat drivers and certainly one of the most experienced, in a career that spanned more than three decades. He was unique in having won world championships in the three main categories: Formula Three, Formula Grand Prix and Formula One. He died in an accident while racing in the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.

At the age of 59 Hill was the fittest and most astute man any of us in the sport had seen. Hill enjoyed consistently demonstrating his supreme ability to beat leading drivers half his age. As recently as last year he came joint second in the World Formula One Championship which he had won the previous year. He achieved this against more than 50 drivers from 11 countries racing in three continents. The Formula One boats virtually fly over the water at speeds of over 130mph. In this sport it is experience in controlling these high-speed machines in wildly contrasting water and wind conditions that counts, and in this Hill had more knowledge than anyone.

Hill was a skilled sign-writer but his life centred around the sport to which his family was also devoted. His companion Viv, and his son Steve - who doubled as his mechanic - globe-trotted to virtually every race, as did his daughter Sue, and son-in-law (and second mechanic) Rob. Although he was truly an international competitor he and his family still had their roots in England and particularly in Gloucester. In fact his first racing club was the Cotswold Motor Boat Club, where he began racing small single-hull boats in national races. He always put something back into the sport, and became Commodore of the Cotswold Club before being an active member of the London and Chasewater Clubs.

His immense talent linked to this professionalism soon took him from monohull racing to international Formula Three racing and in 1979-80 he became European Champion, following the next season with the World Championship. At that time he, with his German arch-rival and friend Michael Werner, dominated the class and in 1982 they both moved to Formula Grand Prix. Werner won the World Championship two years running but Hill got his revenge the next two, in 1984 and 1985.

When Formula Grand Prix became Formula One, the battle around the world continued, and Hill won his Formula One World title at the final round in Singapore in 1990.

Hill was a dignified ambassador for his sport. He competed as far afield as the United States, Thailand, South Africa and Russia. And wherever he raced he was the man to beat.

(Photograph omitted)