Rarely do the worlds of F1 and the Olympics collide. However casual viewers of the prestigious equestrian dressage event could hardly believe their ears when a commentator said a German competitor was riding in London “her lovely stallion (called) Damon Hill”.
And while a little piece of F1 trotted and pranced for gold, a little piece of the 2008 Beijing games can now be found in the McLaren garage.
Olympic silver medallist Tom Stallard is Jenson Button’s performance engineer. Four years ago, he was among the world’s elite ‘men’s eight’ rowers.
“I’d always wanted to be in Formula One,” he said. “I did a motor sports-focused course at university and did some work experience in the sport. I basically joined the team straight after the 2008 Olympics.”
And just so the story goes full circle, the most famous rower ever to grace a formula one paddock was Graham Hill — former world champion Damon Hill’s father.
Before he got serious about racing, two-time title winner Hill competed for the prestigious London Rowing Club, adopting its distinctive navy and white colours for his F1 helmet.
“The self discipline required for rowing and the ‘never say die’ attitude obviously helped me through the difficult years that lay ahead,” 1962 and 1968 world champion Hill wrote in his 1969 autobiography, Life At The Limit.
Son Damon Hill raced the same London rowing colours to the 1996 title.