The Championship fight ended on the 38th lap when the wheel hub broke on Villeneuve's Williams, sending his three wheeler into the gravel and his errant wheel into the crowd (thankfully without incident).
But in truth the result was never in doubt as Hill led the race from start to finish, ending his career at the team with a strong statement to Frank Williams.
Behind Hill (and not that far behind either) were Micheal Schumacher, who held off perennial third place man Mika Hakkinen. In fourth came Gerhard Berger who had a most eventful race, first breaking his front wing in an ill-advised 3rd lap move on Hill. He tried the same thing with Eddie Irvine on lap 36, with different results - Irvine's Ferrari pirouetted through the air while Berger continued unscathed.
Benetton's Jean Alesi finished his season at the first corner, destroying the car against the barriers but walking away unhurt. Martin Brundle, in possibly his last Grand Prix, took fifth while Heinz-Harald Frentzen said goodbye to Sauber with the final Championship point.
Adding to the tension at the start, David Coulthard stalled on the grid, started at the back and after a long pit stop clawed his way back to eighth. While the only other mechanical retirements were the two Tyrrells, who said goodbye to their Yamaha engine deal with, you guessed it, two engine failures.
As Jacques Villeneuve sailed into the gravel, all of England breathed a sigh of relief as "Our Damon" finally followed in the footsteps of "Our Nige" and took the Drivers Championship.
Next year, you won't see him retaining his title, but you will see a more relaxed, more confident Damon Hill ......
..... driving a car with a #1 on it.....
|Pos||Driver||Nat.||Team||Time m:ss.sss||1||Jacques Villeneuve||CAN||Williams-Renault||1:38.909||2||Damon Hill||GBR||Williams-Renault||1:39.370||3||Michael Schumacher||GER||Ferrari||1:40.071||4||Gerhard Berger||AUT||Benetton-Renault||1:40.364||5||Mika Hakkinen||FIN||McLaren-Mercedes||1:40.458||6||Eddie Irvine||IRL||Ferrari||1:41.005||7||H-H Frentzen||GER||Sauber-Ford||1:41.277||8||David Coulthard||GBR||McLaren-Mercedes||1:41.384||9||Jean Alesi||FRA||Benetton-Renault||1:41.562||10||Martin Brundle||GBR||Jordan-Peugeot||1:41.600||11||Rubens Barrichello||BRA||Jordan-Peugeot||1:41.919||12||Olivier Panis||FRA||Ligier-Mugen||1:42.206||13||Johnny Herbert||GBR||Sauber-Ford||1:42.658||14||Ukyo Katayama||JAP||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:42.711||15||Mika Salo||FIN||Tyrrell-Yamaha||1:42.840||16||Pedro Diniz||BRA||Ligier-Mugen||1:43.196||17||Jos Verstappen||NED||TWR-Hart||1:43.383||18||Pedro Lamy||POR||Minardi-Ford||1:44.874||19||Ricardo Rosset||BRA||TWR-Hart||1:45.412|
107 % rule : 1:45.832s
Did Not Qualify :
Gianni Lavaggi - ITA - Minardi-Ford 1:46.795
Andrea Montermini - ITA - Forti-Ford did not enter
Luca Badoer - ITA - Forti-Ford did not enter
Race : 52 laps
|Pos||Driver||Nat.||Car||Time h:mm:ss.sss||1||Damon Hill||GBR||Williams-Renault||1:32:33.791||2||Michael Schumacher||GER||Ferrari||1:32:35.674||3||Mika Hakkinen||FIN||McLaren-Mercedes||1:32:37.003||4||Gerhard Berger||AUT||Benetton-Renault||1:33:00.317||5||Martin Brundle||GBR||Jordan-Puegeot||1:33:40.911||6||H-H Frentzen||GER||Sauber-Ford||1:33:54.977||7||Olivier Panis||FRA||Ligier-Mugen||1:33:58.301||8||David Coulthard||GBR||McLaren-Mercedes||1:33:59.024||9||Rubens Barrichello||BRA||Jordan-Peugeot||1:34:14.856||10||Johnny Herbert||GBR||Sauber-Ford||1:34:15.590||11||Jos Verstappen||NED||TWR-Hart||1 lap down||12||Pedro Lamy||POR||Minardi-Ford||2 laps down||13||Ricardo Rosset||BRA||TWR-Hart||2 laps down||14||Eddie Irvine||IRL||Ferrari||40 laps - collision||15||Ukyo Katayama||JAP||Tyrrell-Yamaha||38 laps - engine||16||Jacques Villeneuve||CAN||Williams-Renault||37 laps - wheel hub||17||Mika Salo||FIN||Tyrrell-Yamaha||21 laps - engine||18||Pedro Diniz||BRA||Ligier-Mugen||14 laps - spun off||19||Jean Alesi||FRA||Benetton-Renault||1 lap - spun off|
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