Britain's last world champion until Sunday in Brazil, Damon Hill has predicted that his successor, Lewis Hamilton, will only get better after becoming the youngest driver to lift the Formula One crown.
Hill, now president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, watched the epic Interlagos event in the company of other drivers and invited guests in the BRDC clubhouse at Silverstone, and admitted that the last few laps of the decisive final round were hard to bear.
“It was despair with two laps to go," he admitted, "We couldn't believe what we were watching because we thought 'how's it gone wrong at this late stage?'. Then, on the last corner, Glock was overtaken and we were suddenly back in the frame again. Poor Felipe Massa and Ferrari were up and down, everyone here was up and down - it was just a tremendously exciting race.
“The rain at the end seemed to throw Glock incredibly. Lewis, at one point, had got it wrong but, actually, it turned out to be Timo that had made the mistake. My congratulations to Lewis, Lewis's family and to McLaren - it is so good to be celebrating a British world champion."
Hamilton finished the Brazilian Grand Prix in fifth place, securing just enough points to pip Felipe Massa and become the youngest-ever champion despite appearing to wobble again at the last gasp, and Hill insists that, with the pressure to succeed for an expectant British nation now off, his successor can only get stronger.
“Lewis is a tremendous talent, a great ambassador for British motorsport and possibly one of the greatest drivers we have had in this country," the 1996 world champion claimed, "He has got a world championship in the bank and I think he is going to be difficult to stop from now on.
“Next year will be a whole new experience for Lewis as world champion. Expectations will be higher than ever, but he will also receive unbelievable support from the fans – nowhere more so than here at Silverstone for his home race.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere here at Silverstone and such an exciting race. It has put Britain right back there at the top - a British driver as world champion, driving for a British team – and now we can look forward to an unbelievable British Grand Prix here at Silverstone in June.
"We are looking forward to welcoming Lewis back to Great Britain as a world champion. The 2009 British Grand Prix looks set to be the last at Silverstone for the foreseeable future, but he will get an unbelievable reception from the fans. It will be a fantastic occasion.”