Hill steps lamely into retirement

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The Independent Online

Damon Hill's career ended tamely today as he pulled out of the Japanese Grand Prix admitting he was only thinking about his family.

Damon Hill's career ended tamely today as he pulled out of the Japanese Grand Prix admitting he was only thinking about his family.

The former world champion retired on lap 21 when lying last even though there was nothing wrong with his car.

It was the second time this season that Hill, who has earned around £10million in his two years with Jordan, has pulled out of a race even though the car could continue.

"I am not happy with the situation I had to take," admitted Hill, who retired from the German Grand Prix complaining about the brakes despite the team's belief they were safe.

"I think by this point of my career the best thing to do was think about my family and my wife Georgie and what was to gain by risking anything.

"It really was too little too gain and too much to lose. I decided that I was so far down the field there was little point in carrying on.

"The race finally settled in my mind without doubt that I never want to do another grand prix again so I am happy with the decision to retire."

Hill enjoyed two of the most memorable moments of his career in Suzuka, winning a rain-lashed race in 1994 and finally being crowned drivers' champion two years later.

But today's departure after he had an earlier trip off the track brings a 115 race career, which included 22 wins, to a hugely disappointing end.

But Hill, who turned 39 in September, admitted his departure summed up a season in which he has been close to quitting on several occasions.

"You can believe in fairytales and it would have been nice to have done better in this race," said father-of-four Hill, whose wife was with him this weekend.

"But it would have been another race in keeping with all the other races this year which have been very barren.

"I am very disappointed about that but the net result is I am out of Formula One and I can look forward to doing things I want to do for the rest of my life.

"I would have liked to have qualified further up and done better but it really has been a struggle this year to get anything. I made a bad start and fell off trying to get Rubens Barrichello and then I was dead last."

Hill scored just seven points this season compared to team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen's 61 point total, fourth place today clinching third place in the drivers' championship.

The German, who has probably been the driver of the season, has been the reason why Jordan have finished a career best third in the Manufacturers' Championship with a best-ever points total.

"Yet another perfect drive by Heinz-Harald," said team chief Eddie Jordan. "He has scored in 12 out of 16 races - a fantastic achievement.

"We realised our dreams this year. This will be a season which hopefully I will remember as being the one that gave us the confidence to make the really serious breakthrough to take on the World Championship."