Will Joshua Hill uphold the family legacy by becoming an F1 champion?
In motorsport history, the name ‘Hill’ belongs to the upper echelons. The British father and son duo of Graham and Damon Hill were both Formula One world champions and, till date, the only pair to have achieved that. Following in their footsteps with the hope of becoming the first third generation world champion is Joshua Hill, the 22-year-old son of 1996 world champion Damon, who was in the city last weekend to take part in MRF Challenge 2012.
“It’s a great honour,” says Josh of his ‘Hill’ lineage. “My granddad and dad built a great legacy and I hope to continue that.”
Josh’s entry into the world of motorsport was at the age of 15 when he announced to his father his desire to compete in the go-karting circuits. “It was pretty late actually. I was not interested until then,” he says. “I don’t really remember seeing my father race too. Maybe it was very natural for me since I was born into it.”
Foray into racing
After manoeuvring all the rubble on the karting tracks for a year or two, Josh’s first year of car racing was at the Genetta Junior Championship and it was here that he tasted his first success. He finished third overall with ten podiums. “That was when I got to know I was a pretty good driver,” he says. “I went on to win the winter series and then moved up to Formula Ford Championships.”
The Championships, which has been on the motor racing calendar since 1972, to this day remains his favourite. 2009 Formula One World Champion and McLaren driver Jenson Button and Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber tasted success here way back in 1998 and 1996 respectively, while seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was seen in 1988.
“It’s an awesome championship,” he says. “The cars are brilliant, the format is great, and teaches a lot about car control. It was a very important step in my career and without that I wouldn’t be the driver that I am today.”
After seasons in the British Genetta, Formula Four, and Formula Renault, Josh will now switch focus to the Euro Formula Three series. “It’s going to be my first year in F3. There are people who have been doing it for two or three years. I need to prove myself here,” he says.
As is the case with any aspiring young driver, his ultimate aim is to be in Formula One. “I need to set my sights on F1 and nothing else really. I need to keep pushing and get the necessary backing as well,” he says and according to him his career progression towards living that dream has till now been steady. “Some shoot up and most hit the brick wall. So it’s important to have the necessary talent, financial backing and luck.”
To a question on idols, Josh answered in the negative. “I find it difficult, more so when I have my granddad and dad. I’d like to be my own driver and not try to copy them.” However, the young lad from Surrey does ape them in one thing and, in fact, feels proud to do so — wearing the trademark blue helmet with white tabs, a symbol of the ‘Hill’ heritage representing the colours of the London Rowing Club (LRC) for which his granddad rowed in the early 1950s.
“It’s a great legacy,” he says, even as he tries to carve a niche for himself, from under the shadows of his illustrious father and grandfather, by driving in “his own way.”