“This was my place of work. It’s where we cre­ate things.

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“To jump back in a ma­chine that I spent only a year driv­ing and to feel com­pletely at home again af­ter a 20-year gap is some­thing quite bizarre and il­lu­mi­nat­ing, be­cause it means those mem­o­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences are not for­got­ten.

“It’s like rid­ing a bi­cy­cle, that old ch­est­nut: you just get in there and it all be­comes au­to­matic. Even the me­chan­ics, their rou­tines, they just re­mem­ber what they used to do and what rou­tines they had and they au­to­mat­i­cally slot straight back in af­ter a 20-year gap – and that’s some­thing to be­hold.

“The time hadn’t re­ally passed. I was try­ing to re­mind my­self of what was dif­fer­ent and I could barely nd any­thing. Ob­vi­ously when I look at my­self in the mir­ror, it’s easy to see the dif­fer­ence, but in the cock­pit, my mind is the same mind. I kept say­ing to my­self: ‘Now Da­mon, you’re 20 years older, just take it easy.’ But you can’t, be­cause your de­fault mode is to push hard and go to the limit. The lim­i­ta­tion sim­ply be­comes phys­i­cal: you just haven’t got the stamina and the strength any more to push the thing to the limit for any length of time.

“To­wards the end I was start­ing to get neck ache, and that’s when I was driv­ing in the wet on a cold track on wet tyres. I started to think: ‘Wow, th­ese cars were pulling quite a lot of G-load and you were pretty well adapted.’ A mus­cle doesn’t take long to build up, but, even so, your heart is pump­ing. In a grand prix, your heart would be pump­ing pretty hard for an hourand-a-half to two hours and you’re sweat­ing a lot. I just wouldn’t be able to do that any more.

“I haven’t raced since I did a VW char­ity race years ago at Brands Hatch, in a VW Scirocco. I got beaten by Johnny Her­bert, Ju­lian Bai­ley and Martin Don­nelly, so I de­cided then that it was denitely a good idea to re­tire!

“I drove a GP2 car at Paul Ri­card when the series was launched in 2005 and I also drove the GP Masters car. Up un­til about ve or six

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