Damon Hill has admitted that there was little hesitation when it came to accepting an offer to drive one of Red Bull Racing's title-winning F1 cars, despite having done little motorsport since announcing his retirement from the top flight in 1999.
The Briton, who won the 1996 F1 world title and now works as part of the Sky Sports
' broadcast team, was handed the chance to strap back into an F1 car when RBR looked around for someone to complete a demonstration run at the World Series by Renault finale in Barcelona and, with son Josh racing on the undercard, Hill readily accepted.
"What an experience!" he enthused afterwards, "It was fantastic to slip back into a world championship-winning F1 car. It's the first time I've been back on track in an F1 car since Suzuka in 1999, so it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down."
The former Brabham, Williams, Arrows and Jordan driver was the second former F1 world champion in as many World Series events to test the car following Alain Prost's run in it at Paul Ricard. The Frenchman, who partnered Hill at Williams after returning to claim his fourth world title in 1993, was also present at the Circuit de Catalunya, and looked on as RBR reserve Sebastien Buemi, and the drinks company's latest protégé, Antonio Felix da Costa, took turns behind the wheel of the RB6.
da Costa, who will get a run with Red Bull at next month's 'young driver test' in Abu Dhabi, is widely tipped to be its next F1 graduate, after making the most of the mid-season addition of a WSbR campaign to his existing GP3 commitments. The Portuguese ace competed in six of the nine rounds after replacing Lewis Williamson at Arden Caterham, taking four wins to finish in fourth place overall.
"It's great what Renault and Red Bull Racing are doing here at the World Series by Renault," Hill noted, "They're introducing so many new fans to motorsport and that's great for the sport. Not only that, but they're also breeding the next generation of F1 stars through [Renault's] 2.0 and 3.5-litre [series]."
da Costa swept to victory in both WSbR races before finishing his weekend with a run in the RB6.
"This weekend was a brilliant one for me,” he said, “I wasn't fighting for the championship, but it's such a great feeling to win in the World Series by Renault. Then to drive the RB6 on Sunday evening and perform the demonstration in front of the crowd was extra special.”