Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Phil Hill, 1927 - 2008 - Ferrari pay tribute 28 Aug 2008

Nurburgring, May 1965: Following his retirement from Formula One racing, Hill continued competing in sportscars for a while. He is pictured here at the 1000km event at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit. © Schlegelmilch Spa, June 1962: At round three of the season, the Belgian Grand Prix, Phil Hill made what would be the final podium appearance of his Formula One career when he finished third behind the Lotus of Jim Clark and the BRM of Graham Hill. © Schlegelmilch 1961 World Champion Phil Hill (USA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, 12 September 2003

Phil Hill, the United States’ first Formula One world champion, has passed away aged 81. Hill, who took the 1961 drivers’ title with Ferrari, died on Thursday in California’s Salinas-Monterey Hospital of complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Born in Santa Monica in 1927, Hill started racing after dropping out of college to become a mechanic’s helper in Los Angeles. In 1955 he joined Ferrari’s driver roster at Le Mans, a race he would eventually win three times, and was promoted to a Formula One drive after the deaths of Luigi Musso and Peter Collins in 1958.

Hill took the first of his three Formula One victories in 1960 at Monza. The Italian circuit also saw him crowned champion the following year, but in heartbreaking circumstances, after German team mate Count Wolfgang von Trips was killed during the race.

It was a tragedy from which Hill’s Formula One career never really recovered and he eventually retired from single-seater racing in 1964, going on to establish a successful car restoration business in his native California.

Paying tribute to Hill, Ferrari's president Luca di Montezemolo commented: "I, as well as all employees of Ferrari are extremely saddened by the news of the passing of Phil Hill, a man and a champion who gave so much to Ferrari and who has always greatly represented the company's values inside and outside the racing track.

“Phil and I have always kept in touch throughout the years and I know I will miss his passion and love for Ferrari very much. My deepest sympathies are with his wife Alma and son Derek in this sad moment."

For more on Phil Hill, visit his profile in Formula1.com’s Hall of Fame section.