F1 Classic

F1 Classic is about the past legends of the Formula 1: pilots, heroes, champions and odd figures; races, triumphs and also tragedies... - Ez a blog a Forma-1 1950-ben elkezdődött, színes, tragikus, de minden ízében izgalmas történetéből idéz fel történeteket, sztorikat, anekdotákat. Ma Vettelről, Hamiltonról, Alonsoról szól a Forma-1, de volt itt valaha egy Fangio, Clark, Surtees, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart, Fittipaldi, Lauda, Hunt, Andretti, Jones - csak hogy néhány világbajnokot említsek. Hát még a többiek!

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René Arnoux is known for many great drives in Formula One, but there is one in particular that stands out in the memories of all Formula One fans...Dijon 1979!


What is your first recollection of Gilles Villeneuve? When did you meet him?

I don’t remember exactly. Probably I saw him first time when I finally made it to Formula 1. I drove for Renault and he drove, of course, for Ferrari. But I know that we had a good feeling for each other immediately, I always considered him my best friend in Formula 1. In nutshell, the name Gilles symbolized to me a real acrobat behind the wheel. He drove at the limit on each corner, each bend... always.

But he also had quite a few accidents…

Yes this is true, but Gilles didn’t understand the meaning of the word “danger”. One time he said to me, “René, if you have a steering wheel and brakes, you can achieve everything!”


To the fans the real race that resonates with them is the duel in Dijon in 1979. How do you remember this race?

Dijon 1979 was the best race in the world! It was possible only between Gilles and I. I knew Gilles very well and he also knew me very well. Yes, it was quite dangerous, especially the wheel banging. In normal circumstances I also would have said it was dangerous, but I knew we could control the situation. I wanted to finish second, but I was experiencing some fuel pick up problems and I always feared that in the big corner before the start-finish line the car would stop or hesitate. I kept pushing and trying. In the end, it wasn’t that important, coming second or third. The best of it was the fight between us.

And Renault won anyway that day!

Exactly! Everybody tends to forget it. Only one man remembers it, Jean-Pierre Jabouille!


How did you feel on the podium?

After the race everybody said that with these two guys they were like boxing. On the podium Gilles and I shook hands. We had a big smiles on our faces. We were both exhausted. After the celebrations someone came over and said, come see the last five laps you did. I was on the television in the press room. I took a seat because I was more than a little tired...and then I saw the four or five final laps! At this time, so not during the race, but now as I was sitting on my chair, I was really afraid of what would happen! My eyes opened bigger and bigger and I said to myself that’s a crazy thing. I had to thank as it was in a really bad condition when I passed the finish line. I remember Mauro Forghieri was there sitting close to me watching this scene. He threw his arms towards the sky and shouted that “These two guys are completely mad!” If it was for the win I’d understand, but it was only for the second and third place!”

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Did Dijon strengthen your friendship?

As said, we were always good friends. But after Dijon we always remained somehow together and for the longest time people talked only about what happened in Dijon. I would say our friendship became even stronger.

As a French-Canadian did Gilles belong the French family? There are many photos with you, Laffite, Pironi, Tambay, and Prost.

We were all friends to a certain extent. What I can tell you is Gilles often invited me to their pits. He’d say, “René...come over to us at Ferrari and enjoy some good Italian food”. And the next day it was my turn, I call him to come to Renault to have a real French lunch. It was totally normal in those days. We had fantastic time together. I can swear to you, he was completely crazy, I mean, when he was driving, but out of the car a very fine and interesting man. I’ll tell you a story: one year in Watkins Glen before the second practice, when I was eating together with Gilles, I asked him if he took the last corner flat out or does he lift a little bit. He answered that so far he hadn’t taken it flat out, but in the afternoon practice he would try. I knew, if he said he would try, he would do it - definitely. When we run during practice just three minutes from the end I saw a Ferrari in the catch fencing. It was totally destroyed! There were no wheels...nothing on it. Gilles had already walked back to the pits. I was happy at least upon seeing him that nothing had happened to him. After returning to my pits, I jumped out of my car and went directly to Ferrari and said to him, “So, is it possible to do the last corner flat out or not?” He just smiled, “’s not possible”.


I’ll tell you something else: in Imola in 1980 he had a really big crash. It was on the 2nd or 3rd lap. It was only when I come to this spot as the leader, I suddenly had a Ferrari in the middle of track with no wheels, no wings, no engine, no gearbox – but the body of the car was somehow intact and not bad at all. At this time we had no radio communication, so I was very much afraid of what had happened. I finished the race and after returning to the pits I immediately hurried to Ferrari. I saw Gilles there, and I asked, “Gilles, how are you?” and he said, “Well...fantastic!” He continued with, “I am really happy…” I tried to guess why he would he say he was he happy and he went on saying, “You know, René, I had a big crash with 280 km/h and nothing happened to me. My car saved me. It has such a strong body. That makes me happy.”


He was lucky then, but not in Zolder. How do you remember his accident?

These were the most difficult moments in my entire career. I saw the whole accident because I drove quite close after them, Gilles and Jochen. When I speak about it each time this film runs in my memory… I stopped on the grass and went to other side of the road to the body of Gilles. It was just evident he was dead. That was a terrible moment, because he wasn’t simply a colleague, but also a good friend. He was a generous, charming man. I also think this accident was completely stupid. Gilles had many more heavier accidents in the past, but this one was just unnecessary. After, for me, racing was different.

Many say he overdrove, that his style itself was dangerous. What do you think?

Well, as a colleague I would say he wasn’t a dangerous driver, at least not for us, maybe for himself. He drove like an acrobat. Maybe he would never have won the Championship because from the start of every race he asked too much from the car, always the maximum, each lap. Sometimes he found himself with no tyres, no brakes, but still he continued with the same spirit of using his car. You cannot deny he had some fantastic races. Like in Jarama in1981. I stopped quite early because of an engine problem in my Renault. I remained at the end of the long straight to watch the race. There was Gilles and right behind him guys like Laffite, Reutemann, Watson and others, all strong competitors, and still he was unbeatable. Although his Ferrari was not easy to drive he pushed and pushed and pushed.


The year after Gilles’ death you became a Ferrari driver yourself. Did you still sense Gilles’ absence in the team?

When I signed for Ferrari I didn’t know who would partner me. I had an appointment with Mr Ferrari during 1982, very early. So I didn’t know if my teammate would be Gilles or Pironi. It would have been very nice to be together with Gilles, but life turned out to be different. Still, my time with Ferrari was very good in the sense that my driving style did not change after Gilles’ death. In Formula 1 if your best friend’s death affects your driving, you would better to stop. Each time you start a race without your friend on the starting grid, it was something difficult to accept.

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A few occasions you had the chance to drive Gilles’ 312T4. What kind of feeling was it?

I was very impressed and excited. These were so special moments, I felt it in my heart. Many things came to my memory, all those weekends when we drove together on different circuits, Ferrari versus Renault.

Check out this, too:


Címkék: 1982 1983 1981 1979 Ferrari Gilles Villeneuve Renault Enzo Ferrari René Arnoux Dijon Watkins Glen Jarama Mauro Forghieri Jean-Pierre Jabouille

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Erbé egy eldugott olasz falucska: itt áll az első Villeneuve-emlékmű. Tőle pár kilométerre, Castel d’Arioban született Tazio Nuvolari. Méltó párosítás egy kirándulásra.

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Érdekes, hogy amikor a 2006-os fényképeket böngészem, feltűnik, hogy az imolai Piazza Gilles Villeneuve avatásán készült fotókon ott áll az a kis csapat, tartva a molinót, amelyik Erbéből érkezett. A neten való kereséssel manapság minden hová el lehet jutni, így hamarosan kapcsolatba kerülhetek Alessandro Silvestrisszel, aki az Erbében működő Gilles Villeneuve Club elnöke. Valaha, 1975-ben egyszerű Ferrari Clubként alakultak, de aztán a kis kanadai halála után felvették a nevét. Sőt, itt nem álltak meg a tiszteletadásban. Gyakorlatilag a világon elsőként, még a szülőhely, Berthierville előtt létrehozták a maguk emlékművét ebben a piciny, valószínűleg addig senki által fel nem keresett helyen. Mert aztán ezek után, idestova 30 éve Erbé egy kicsit zarándokhellyé vált a Villeneuve-rajongók számára. Nekem is meg kellett tennem ezt az utat. A tavasz mindig remek alkalom egy olaszországi bóklászásra, hát ha még ilyen kalandokkal lehet fűszerezni. Alessandroval csekélyke olasz tudásom segítségével leveleztem, majd már oda érkezve, egy végső telefonos egyeztetés után déli 12 órában állapodtunk meg.

- Az emlékműnél – mondta.

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És ezt nagyon helyénvalónak éreztem. A kizöldült tájban, kanyargó utakon, messze a forgalomtól lehet eljutni Erbébe. És oda jutva nem kell sokat keresgélni: a falu határában magasodik az égbe az az F104-es vadászgép, amit az olasz légierő ajándékozott nekik. Gilles egy ilyen géppel mérte össze a Ferrari 126CK sebességét 1981 novemberében, amikor a istrinai katonai reptéren versenyre keltek. Nem kell külön ecsetelni, ki nyert – a 100 ezer néző szeme láttára. Korán érkeztem, van időm alaposan körbejárni az itt-ott már rozsdásodó gépmadarat és a mellett elhelyezett Villeneuve-szobrot. Sehol egy lélek, melegen süt a nap, ebédidő van. Aztán befut egy fehér Fiat, és végre személyesen is megismerkedhetek Silvestris úrral, Alessandróval. Hetven felé járhat, de fiatalos, energikus, és mint oly sokaknál tapasztaltam már, ha Gilles-ről van szó, különös tűz gyúl neki is a szemében. Nekem pedig az olasz beszédkészségemet acélozza meg ez az alkalom is, hiszen Alessandro pár angol szón kívül csak szépséges anyanyelvét beszéli. Lelkesen meséli el, hogy a szobor avatására sikerült meghívniuk Joanna Villeneuve-öt, az özvegyet, illetve, hogy a nyár elején minden évben egy Ferrari Napot is tartanak, ahol az évtizedek alatt sok-sok híresség megfordult, és a település legnagyobb szenzációjává nőtte ki magát.

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Ami viszont a környékbélieknek nem teljesen idegen, mármint az autóverseny iránti imádat – és itt jön az átkötés –, mivel egy öt kilométerrel odább fekvő faluban, Castel d’Arioban született a nagy Tazio Nuvolari, akit a erbéiek is magukénak éreznek. Enzo Ferrari maga hasonlította többször is Nuvolarihoz Villeneuve-öt, több fotó is létezik arról az ünnepségről, ahol Gilles Nuvolari Alfájában ül, és magasba emeli a kormánykereket, mint annak idején a Repülő Mantovai egyik célba érésekor. Nem csoda, hogy Alessandro is azt ajánlja, guruljunk át Castel d’Arioba, megmutatja Nuvolari szülőházát és koránt sem mellékesen, meghív ebédre. Hogy is tiltakoznék!

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A szülőház egy tisztes épület, hófehér falakkal, zöld ablaktáblával és egy emléktáblával. Magántulajdonban van, bár nem a Nuvolari családé már. A múzeum pedig nem itt van, hanem Mantovában – ahová délutánra szól a meghívó. Azért a főtéren – kell-e külön mondani? – áll egy érdekes megfogalmazású Nuvolari-szobor. Két éve, amikor Gilles halálának 30. éves évfordulója kapcsán a környéken nagy ünnepségek voltak, René Arnoux itt tett még néhány kört azzal a 312T4-es Ferrarival, ami a Giacobazzi-család tulajdona. Tömérdek rajongó zarándokolt el ide, itt volt Joanna és Gilles lánya, Melanie is, no meg a teljese egykori szerelőgárda, akik valaha Villeneuve-vel dolgoztak. Giulio Borsari, a „capo mechanico” azóta már el is hunyt.


A nézelődés, mesélés, fényképezkedés után jöhetett a helyi specialitásként beharangozott rizottó – hol máshol is, mint a Ristorante Nuvolariban. Mint minden rendes efféle helyen, ennek az étteremnek a fala is versenyautókkal van tele: a Maestro száguld különböző emlékezetes versenyein, hol egykori plakátokon, hol valamely helybéli piktor ecsetje által freskóvá festve. A vitrinekben autómodellek, és különböző kisebb-nagyobb relikviák, olyasmik is, persze, amik a később Ferrari-hősökre emlékeztetnek, egészen Schumacherig vagy éppen Alonsóig. Az ebéd pompás, az oldalassal tálalt rizotto tényleg speciális, nem is beszélve a desszertként felszolgált, a lelkes tulajdonos által nagyon ajánlott sajt-fügelekvár combóról. De közben azért előkerültek egy nagy mappából az erbéi Villeneuve Club dicső történetét elbeszélő dokumentumok. Főképp a fotók érdekesek: Alessandro jócskán fiatalabban áll rajtuk, olyan személyiségek társaságának, mint Didier Pironi, Michele Alboreto vagy éppen a még kamasz Jacques Villeneuve. Sőt, Alessandro igazi olaszként olyannyira a szívébe fogadott e röpke pár óra alatt, hogy megmutatja a családját és még a macskáit is. Persze, azért Villeneuve az első, úgyhogy amikor hosszasan búcsúzkodunk a Ristorante Nuvolari előtt, ajándékképpen kapok matricát, bekeretezett képet és könyvet is emlékbe.

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E méltó előkészítés után aztán semmi akadálya, hogy tovább menjek Mantovába, ahol nemrégiben nyílt meg a Nuvolari Múzeum, egy új helyen. Az amúgy csak a hétvégén nyitva tartó intézménybe külön a kedvemért bejött Gianni Cancellieri igazgató úr, és ő is nagyon lelkesen vág bele – hála istennek, angolul – a látványosságok bemutatásába. Itt is van mit nézni bőven, noha, mint jelzi, ő maga kicsit elégedetlen ezzel a hellyel, amit tavaly kaptak. Talán annyi szolgál mentségül, hogy a már-már szentként tisztelt nagy Tazio relikviái egy használaton kívüli templomban kaptak elhelyezést… Itt aztán van minden. Fotók, régi dokumentumok és rengeteg tárgyi emlék. Kormánykerekek, a híres teknőc, több kiadásban, amit Nuvolari Gabriele d’Anunziótól kapott, a sárga ing, és a győzelmi kupák, díszes serlegek.

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Amik között némi keresgélés után megtaláljuk az I. Magyar Nagydíjért járó két kupát is, amit Nuvolari az 1936-os, népligeti elsőségéért hozhatott haza. Egészen meghatódom rajta, hogy láthatom őket. És itt van egy olyan koszorú is, amit nem Nuvolari nyert – Nino Farina, az első világbajnok nem tudott jelen lenni a nagy bajnok temetésén 1953-ban, mert a Német Nagydíjon indult. De nyert, és a győzelmi koszorút elhozta neki, a sírjára. Méltónak érzem, egyáltalán nem teátrálisnak. Gianni is olyan, hogy érezni rajta: körülbelül egy hétig tudna mesélni, nem csak magáról Nuvolariról, hanem a múzeumról, és mindazokról a tárgyakról, amik itt vannak – és amik nincsenek itt. Itt, ott, amott is vannak még fellelhető Nuvolari-ereklyék, például az 1936-ban megnyert, óriási Vanderbilt Kupa, ami egyelőre egy másik helyszínen látható, de tán egyszer létre jön egy nagy, egységes Nuvolari Múzeum, ahol minden egy fedél alá kerül. Így ér körbe, a múltba egyre visszafelé haladva a Villeneuve-Nuvolai-vonal. Az már csak tényleg hab a tortán, hogy mindkét derék úriember, Alessandro és Gianni is megemlíti, hogy 1956-ban ez a térség sok magyar menekültet fogadott be, voltak magyar barátaik, sőt, Gianni jónéhány magyar szót is tudott, mivel, ha nem is ő, de egy barátja teljesen beleszeretett a magyar nyelvbe, és szinte tökéletesen megtanulta, később nyelvészként kutatta is. Hát, efféle különös kalandokba keveredik az ember, ha autóverseny-rajongó!

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Sir Jackie Stewart liked Gilles Villeneuve a lot as a person and admits he was an exciting driver, but doesn’t count him among the greatest.


What is your first memory of Gilles Villeneuve?

My strongest memory is of him when we flew home in his helicopter from Imola. There was this…misunderstanding, as you know. He was very angry. I was presenting the champagne that year and I was on the podium with him. He was really angry even when we got into his helicopter to fly me to the airport to go back to Switzerland.

And as a driver?

He was so exciting as a driver! But the excitement…well, I think he overdrove more than he needed to. He was so fast that he didn’t have to.  I think he had won more races if he had come back a little bit. He was more a hero of the spectators than the bank managers. Because at the end of the day you have to go to win. You can’t just drive fast. He was great in the controlling the car department because of the enormous talent he had, but I wouldn’t consider him one of the great drivers. He didn’t win enough.


He was not World Champion material to you?

He was certainly great material. First, he should have a reliable car and then he should have calmed down a little.  We then would have seen a more successful Gilles Villeneuve.

Some say it was partly his team’s fault that he wasn’t more successful. Do you agree?

I wouldn’t confirm it or deny it. He certainly was a favourite of the spectators. He was always trying, he never backed off, he gave his best. On the other hand sometimes he tried to do the impossible. I do remember his drive with three wheels. Here we come to the mind, to the mind management, and I think that was missing.

If he had landed at a British team, say Brabham or McLaren, would he have been more successful?

That’s possible. He should have learned not to overdrive. Until Ronnie Peterson calmed down he didn’t win much. Until Jody calmed down, he didn’t win much. As it has always been said, to come first you have to finish first. 


Do you think in 1979 he could have learned it from Jody Scheckter?

Some people do learn it, some don’t. Sometimes it is enough to be fast. To win you need a special mentality and again, mind management.

It is often said that Rindt, Peterson and Gilles were cut from the same cloth. Do you feel this way?

Ronnie calmed himself down and drove some very good races. He overcame his enthusiasm for driving that Gilles also had. Jochen drove way over the edge for a long time. Then he realized that if he backed off a little bit, he went faster. So he didn’t make so many mistakes. You know, going sideways is easy, but it’s not faster, it only looks better. I am always saying if pleases the spectators it disappoints the bank manager.


Would you have hired Gilles in your team?

It would depend who else was available!

Why is he still such a big legend?

Simply because of his enthusiasm and the way he drove. It was fantastic for the crowd. Everybody enjoyed that. A lot of people would say that. But if you look at the great drivers – Jim Clark didn’t drive like that, neither did Fangio, neither did Lauda, neither did Brabham, neither did Prost. You see that something was missing there. I think if he had matured a little more he then could have been a much greater driver. Today would be difficult for him with the constantly overheating tyres you couldn’t drive like that. Sure, he was exciting to look at and he was always good for a fast lap. But – he didn’t win enough races. Personally I liked him very much. I enjoyed his company. I flew over for his funeral, too…


Címkék: 1982 Ferrari Gilles Villeneuve Imola Jochen Rindt Ronnie Peterson Sir Jackie Stewart

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Marco Piccinini was the Sport Director of the Ferrari Formula 1 team between 1978-1988. In this capacity he had the closest view of Gilles Villeneuve’s entire Ferrari period.


You became Direttore Sportivo when Gilles Villeneuve became part of the team. What was the situation inside Ferrari now that Lauda was gone and Gilles a “novice” to Ferrari and Formula One?

I was a “novice” as well; therefore one could say that Gilles and myself discovered Formula 1 together, even if from different points of view.

Gilles had a turbulent beginning: a crash in Japan and many accidents during the first part of 1978. Did you have conversatons with him or with Mr. Ferrari about Gilles' future?

A driver’s performance and race incidents where obviously under permanent review between Mr. Ferrari, his son Piero and myself. A Formula 1 team is a professional organization and replacing a driver during the season is always an option, even if an extreme one. However Mr. Ferrari considered Gilles as a personal “challenge” and he was a man who didn’t like to lose his “bets”!


What wasyour professional relationship with Gilles? Did you consider him an exceptional talent?

Gilles had clearly a lot of talent which just needed to be shaped and managed in order to achieve top results. That was of course one of the professional responsibilities of a Team Manager.

In 1979 you had the dream team: Scheckter-Villeneuve. How do you remember this season?

Definitively a successful one, and winning the World Championship at the Italian GP was particularly meaningful for all of the team. Jody initially considered Gilles as the number 2 driver, but Mr. Ferrari wanted to leave options open until mid-season: this was a good motivation for both drivers and I must say that Jody soon realized how important it was to respect his teammate’s legitimate pride.


Gilles had a chance for the title in '79 - but never again in his life. Was he World Champion material?

Gilles was definitively a potential World Champion even if fate or circumstances decided otherwise. This was also the case of other great talents, such as Stirling Moss, Chris Amon or Didier Pironi.

How was Gilles off track?

Gilles was the same on track and off the track, when driving a car on the highway, a speedboat or piloting his helicopter:  he always was on the limit and often beyond!  But that was his genuine nature which all Ferrari’s fans over the world deeply loved.

Which race do you consider his best?

One might mention Monaco in 1981; until then everybody considered  it nearly impossible for a turbo car to successfully compete against normally aspirated engines on the twisting roads of the Principality, but Gilles made it happen!   


Were you ever angry with him? For example in Holland 1979 when didn't come in to change his tires near the end of the race?

Unlike nowadays, pit stops to change tires during a race were exceptional and for Gilles to stop toward the end of the race might have proved very penalizing: therefore he made a call consistent with his temperament to always try the impossible and that is why people loved him so much. 

What do you think of his relationship with Didier Pironi? Whose "fault" was Imola?

The two drivers, Didier and Gilles where strong drivers with different personalities and technical gifts, and this is almost always the case in any F1 team. Concerning Imola, many things have been said and written, mostly  inaccurate. At Ferrari, after the race, we analyzed very carefully the events and I believe we achieved a clear understanding of the situation. However, both protagonists are now passed away and it would not be appropriate to elaborate further on those circumstances.


Zolder - how does it live inside of you? Did you speak to each other between San Marino and Zolder?

Of course after the San Marino GP we had routine meetings with the drivers; Mr. Ferrari and his son Piero met with Gilles,  Didier and myself altogether, before we left for Belgium. The accident at Zolder was the tragic consequence of a driving misunderstanding with another competitor, but of course offered the media a good opportunity to build up polemics, which didn’t add anything to Gilles’ legend.

Could you describe what you did when you got the news of the accident? How did you react?

Unfortunately a Team Principal must have always know what he has to do should a serious accident occur. Immediately after the red flag was displayed and all cars stopped, I drove to the scene of the accident in order to coordinate with the organizers first the emergency, medical intervention and a helicopter hospital. At the same time, one has to liaise with the family, Mr. Ferrari, the medics, the other team members and not to mention the       judicial inquiry that usually takes place in such dramatic circumstances. These are very sad moments, but unfortunately it is part of the job.

Looking back: why is Gilles a legendary figure? Is he also legendary to you? 

I believe that Gilles was a legend and still is because he was a very generous driver and, whether his car was competitive or not, he was always giving the maximum for his supporters and his team.


Címkék: 1982 1978 1981 1979 Gilles Villeneuve Enzo Ferrari Monte Carlo Jody Scheckter Imola Monza Zolder Marco Piccinini Piero Ferrari Didier Pironi

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Five-time Grand Prix winner and runner up in the nightmare” 1982 World Championship, John Watson moved on to commentate on Formula One for the Eurosport. In true John Watson fashion he has a firm opinion on Gilles Villeneuve.


In 1977 at Silverstone Gilles Villeneuve appeared in Formula 1. At the time you were with Bernie Ecclestone and the Brabham-­Alfa Romeo. You led this race but went out with fuel supply problems. Did you notice the novice at McLaren?

Not particularly. I mean, I was aware of what he had achieved racing in Canada. James Hunt had mentioned him as having very good talent. But that stage my focus was very much on my particular role at Brabham. I led the race but did not finish so I was disappointed with that outcome and I didn’t think about a newcomer.

There were reports that you were being considered to replace Lauda. Is that true?  Were you contacted by Ferrari?

Ferrari always had people in the pit lane who came to you saying, Mr. Ferrari might have an interest in you, please, let us know if anybody else approaches you. We would like to have an opportunity to talk with you. It was like that with almost everybody and there was nothing unusual with that. But there was never a formal approach made to me. Frankly, I was with Brabham. We had a good engine and a good car. We just needed more reliability. In actual fact Lauda was coming to Brabham in 1978. This indicated that Niki maybe felt the same as me.


Were you surprised that Ferrari picked up Villeneuve instead of Andretti or Jones?

Well, maybe they saw something which they thought going to be very good for Ferrari. They took a young guy who was very fast. Andretti was an established driver but his future was going to be with Lotus. He already knew what development Lotus had done and we didn’t know about this at that time. Alan Jones surely was an option and he had talks with Ferrari, but they opted to go with Villeneuve, which I am not sure was the right choice. Alan Jones would have been an effective driver and certainly he wouldn’t have crashed as much as Villeneuve did.

Was it a concern for you and your fellow drivers that this new boy was crashing and flying off all the time?

This is nothing new in Formula 1. You have often this situation when you have a young driver coming into a good team. You have to accept and consider, everybody out on the circuit. Villeneuve was obviously naturally very quick, but already in Japan 1977 he had a big crash where some people died.

Did you discuss him inside your team in 1978?

No. The driver who was catching more attention in 1978 was Riccardo Patrese. At that stage Patrese was the man who resulted in more concern than Villeneuve.


In 1979 Gilles scored his best result in the Championship finishing 2nd behind Scheckter. Was he good only for a quick lap and some wins?

I truthfully do not know. But the performance that Scheckter at the wheel of a Ferrari gave was a true Championship performance. In the end of the day, the team has to support the driver who is in a better place to win the Championship. Gilles was very spectacular, in Dijon for example, where he fought with Arnoux, although this style of driving is not what I considered to be Formula 1. Then in Zandvoort where he had a puncture and drove a whole lap with the car dragging its rear with bits of the bodywork coming off… These things are great for the spectators but a team has to look to the best driver who can win them the Championship. I think they thought that Villeneuve’s day would come, but in 1979 Scheckter was the man who was going to win the title for them.

By this time you had already driven for McLaren and you were a member of the Marlboro World Championship Team as Villeneuve was. Did you have common occasions like press conferences or any personal contact with him off  the track?

Not particularly. Gilles was a younger person than me. The people I was friendly with were all my age, so I didn’t have really a huge amount of contact with Gilles.


There are two particular races during 1981 I’d like to talk about: In Jarama Gilles won after leading a train of five cars within 1.24 seconds. You could have spread a blanket over them.  What do you remember of this Spanish Grand Prix?

I was one of the drivers who could overtake. I overtook Reutemann and got into third place. Villeneuve’s Ferrari was not handling at all well, but in Jarama he was able to use the strength of the car and it’s great straight line performance.  It was because of the Ferrari turbo-charged engine. He was able to open up enough time between himself and Jacques Laffite and nobody could catch him. Jarama is anyway a very difficult circuit to pass on. Nevertheless, it was an outstanding drive, in a pretty awful car handling-wise. If I could have got ahead of Laffite I like to think I could have challenged Gilles, too. But I didn't have enough time for that.


There are pictures where you are all waiting on the podium for King Juan Carlos. You all look exhausted. What did you talk about in these minutes?

Obviously that was a very close finish for the first five cars. I can imagine everybody said if I could have overtaken I would have won the race. Actually, if any of the four cars behind him would have been able to overtake him they would have certainly won the race. But he was able to get enough advantage that he could go slower in the corners, accelerate hard on the straight then go slow in the corner. That was the nature of Jarama as well. It was stop­go, stop-go for everybody behind Villeneuve. Monaco was an other outstanding drive by Villeneuve for sure. The other fact I need to tell is that his teammate, Pironi, in the 1981 Ferrari, didn’t match the performance of Villeneuve. He was nowhere. That was Gilles’ strength. In a bad car he could produce a very good performance. Pironi just struggled in that car.


The second race was Silverstone which you won – but you almost crashed when Gilles spun on the second lap.

Well, Silverstone was a shit, wasn’t it? I called it, he was driving like hyperactive child. That was an accident which shouldn’t have happened. That was the problem with Gilles: if he’d had somebody who could explain to him how to use his talent more productively he would have achieved much more, and secondly, he’d probably even be alive. But he choose to drive the way he did and did what he wanted to do.


Enzo Ferrari, Mauro Forghieri and all the Ferrari staff just loved the way he drove. Do you think they didn’t talk to him as you suggest?

I have said to many people that if Villeneuve had gone to Williams or McLaren or Brabham, teams which would run him, not the way Ferrari used to let him run, he would have been more successful. They didn’t use his string well, they just liked him to be Gilles Villeneuve. But the responsibility of the team is to ensure that their driver maximize the opportunity available. In my view Ferrari misused the talent and ability of Villeneuve.


How do you remember Imola in 1982.  Your team McLaren did not participate, but what are your feelings on what happend there?

I watched on television. This race showed me two things. It illustrated that with a better performing car Gilles had a small advantage over Pironi. Didier was much more competitive in 1982 than in 1981. For me it was a surprise. It meant that Villeneuve excelled in a poorer car, but if he had a better car, Pironi was able to match him or was sometimes potentially better. I think that was a frustration for Villeneuve. Secondly, I think, Marco Piccinini, the team manager at Ferrari and Pironi were much more intelligent than Gilles was. I believe there was a shift inside Ferrari to favour Pironi, because Pironi made Piccinini believe in him. Piccinini realized Villeneuve never really understood how to win the Championship. That was a big change and Imola was the race where it was illustrated clearly. During the winter 1981/82 Pironi’s position at Ferrari became more and more strong. I believe that Piccinini thought if Pironi had a competitive car, he could win the World Championship rather than Villeneuve. Pironi was extremely ambitious, very single minded, ruthless, intelligent and I think Gilles maybe at this point was naive and not understanding what happens when you get a political driver like Pironi as a teammate. To their agreement, I am not sure how was it exactly, but Gilles believed what was said, but maybe not realizing the different views held by his teammate and more importantly, by the team principal, Marco Piccinini. I am sure Piccinini understood very well what was going on. That’s why I believe that the favour at Ferrari was switched to Pironi from Gilles.

When you arrived to Zolder did you sense the tension inside the Ferrari camp?

Frankly, I didn’t give a damn. Whatever was going on at Ferrari… if it helps us I would be happy for that. It was an issue between the two drivers. They had their difficulties aboutwho was number 1 or who should have won.

How do you remember the accident scene when you arrived?

It was evident that is was a massive accident and a Ferrari was involved. I saw a heavily damaged car, then I saw that a driver’s body was lying in the catch fencing. I got out of my car.  We had to stop since the track was blocked. I walked over and saw it was Villeneuve. His helmet was off. I looked in his eyes and to me… I haven’t seen too many dead before, but I felt that’s how a dead person looked like…I think in every sense, as I understood, he was dead. I got back to the car, went to the pits and told to my people what happened and then…I had a coffee, I think.


The next day you won the Belgian Grand Prix.

Yeah… But that was my job. My job was not to worry about what happened to another driver. That’s always very sad when a driver gets killed, but Gilles, well, I think he took too many risks. This time he had no control over the risk he was taking.

 More than 30 years after of his death Gilles is still a legend. Why?

He surely had a particular style of racing which was to many people an appealing style of racing… But I come from a different opinion. First of all, I think he was a talent completely wasted and lost his life unnecessarily. If they had been a proper team with proper understandings and proper direction from the management of the team, all the skill, talent and ability that Villeneuve had could have been channeled in a much more positive way and he could have been taught, not how to win a race, but how to drive as he should have done. If you see all the great drivers in the history of Formula 1 – Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Lauda, Schumacher, Vettel, these drivers were all intelligent drivers who drove with their head. Villeneuve drove with his heart. In some respect he was the perfect style of driver for Mr Ferrari, because as far he was concerned he preferred a driver to risk everything to give his team success. Other team principals understand that are other ways to win the World Championship. That’s why Scheckter was able to win the title – he didn’t take unnecessary risks, he didn’t drive for the crowd, he drove for the team. I don’t know why everybody says Villeneuve was the greatest driver – I completely disagree with that. I think he was somebody who had a huge natural talent and gift, but in this sense he was rather like an entertainer. Gilles appeared to a certain aspect of why people like to watch racing drivers.


Címkék: 1982 1978 1977 1981 1979 Ferrari McLaren Gilles Villeneuve Enzo Ferrari James Hunt Monte Carlo Brabham Niki Lauda René Arnoux Imola Zolder Dijon Mario Andretti Marco Piccinini Zandvoort Jarama Alan Jones John Watson Jacques Laffite

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Derek Warwick, currently president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, was a young fellow driver of Gilles Villeneuve in 1981/82. He was the first to arrive on the scene of Gilles accident in Zolder. Also he was the first to try to help him.


Before you entered Formula 1 in 1981 you watched the races on TV. How did you see Villeneuve and what he gave to the fans on the track?

He was somebody who had such imagination, such style, such great determination at all costs. He was idolized for his passion. He was loved by so many people and he made a big impression on a lot of drivers of his era.

Was he a hero figure to you?

If you ask this question when I started Formula 1, I would say he probably was a kind of hero because he was somebody you looked up to. If you asked this question today then I may have changed my mind slightly. I think some of the things he did were outrageously dangerous. In hindsight I’d have to say he pushed the boundaries of safety too far sometimes.

In Imola 1981 you had your Formula 1 debut with Toleman. Gilles was on pole and also led the race. How do you remember this weekend?

I don’t remember much of the race because we didn’t qualify and we went home early. For us it was a non-event. It was our first Grand Prix though and very special for us. I do remember watching the Ferrari and Gilles preparing for the race and wishing I could be like him one day. I also remember clearly when he arrived on Thursday in his helicopter. He did things with it most people would not imagine doing. He almost looped the helicopter. I thought this man may be a little bit crazy and bit of a daredevil. I thought if he wasn’t more careful, one day he would hurt himself very seriously.


Did you have any personal contact with him once you had arrived in Formula 1?

I had little contact with him other than in South Africa in 1982 when we had the drivers’ strike. What surprised me I was a nobody, a new boy to F1, my car was not competitive so I was not competition for him, but I remember him sitting down with me on the mattress in the middle of the floor where we were striking. He was talking to me like I was just like another racing driver. What sticks with me is his humanity.  He was a very human person. He never thought of himself as a superstar. He just came across as a nice, humble person.

At Imola in 1982 the race had only 14 due to some of the teams boycotting the event. What memories do you have of that event?

I just remember the controversy over Pironi’s win. You have to believe Gilles thought that there was an agreement between him and Didier. If anybody knew Gilles they would know he was a very honest man and he felt very hurt by what happened. Of course most people blamed Pironi for what followed later in Belgium. Gilles was so upset with the way Pironi apparently reneged on their deal. Since then one can read so many things about this incident and it’s not as simple is as everybody thinks. There are also people who say Pironi had every right to win the race but Villeneuve for sure never thought that way.


As a race steward of the FIA, you sometimes have to deal with team orders. Was it different in the 1980s?

I think there were always agreements within the teams between drivers. The most important was you can race but don’t take each other out and end the team’s race. There are certain times when you are asked as a driver to hold position. That was in the 1980s, in the 1990s and also today. In Bahrain this year the duel between Hamilton and Rosberg was too dangerous. It showed a sign of stupidity because if both drivers were out of the race it might look good for the television audience, but at the end of the day you have to show more responsibility to the team and the sponsors. Mercedes was very lucky.

In Zolder when Gilles had his accident you were the first car on the scene. What did you find?

I remember coming through the chicane and seeing the mess. There was a car severely damaged in the middle of the track in front of me. I stopped my car on the side and ran to the Ferrari to help Gilles. It looked really quite horrific, but I found out he was not with the car. That surprised and frightened me. I turned around and saw Gilles crumpled in the catch fencing, his helmet was off. I crossed the road to the catch fence and I tried my best to get him out of the fencing before the medics arrived. For me… he looked dead. I mean, he was blue and he wasn’t breathing. Then the medics arrived I just let them through. I remember walking back to my car and getting in and driving back to the paddock. I then went into our team motorhome and just cried and cried and cried. I knew that Gilles wouldn’t make it.


How did this effected your career?

That was the first time I had held another driver in my arms after a bad accident. It had a very strange effect on me. There were many times you lose a fellow driver, but normally it is not that close to you physically. This was different. I was right there with him. During my career I have lost some 13 drivers in different formulas, including my little brother. I can’t say we get used to people dying because you never get used to it, but you get used to handling the emotions of somebody dying. I remember we went back to the hotel in the evening that day in Zolder.  My wife was with me and I was still very upset and crying.  We heard the news that Gilles had passed away – but the next morning I woke up, had a shower and got ready to go to the track to race.  My wife just could not understand how we could go back the track where somebody had just lost his life. The incident is still so vivid in my mind. It was that day when I learned how to completely lock away any bad thoughts, bad memories and bad pictures. I found a way of creating a little safe in my brain where I would lock things like this away until the end of the race. Then, and only then would I allow the emotions to come trough.



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Brenda Vernor first came to Modena in 1962. Here she met the English racing driver Mike Parkes who was driving for Ferrari. At this time she was teaching English in Italy. Piero Ferrari was one of her students. She became secretary to Enzo Ferrari doing his translations from English to Italian for the Ferrari F1 racing department.

In the summer of 1977 it was evident that Niki Lauda was about to leave. Did you know of the politics and consideration of Villeneuve as a driver for the factory?
Ferrari has always been political, like many other big companies I believe, they were involved all the time. I don't really know, I don't think Niki was very happy at the time. The 'Old Man' had heard about Gilles, for whom he always had a soft spot. He liked drivers who had a lot of go. However I was never involved in these discussions, it was not part of my job. I was only a secretary!
When did you first meet Gilles?
When he first came to the factory. He was an introvert. He didn't like to talk too much , but with me this was not the case. He was like a younger brother for me. We had a very good friendship and we got on very well.
How was Gilles when he came to Maranello during his Ferrari years?
For example everything in August is closed here in Maranello even the hotels. He was here  testing for a couple of days, so he asked me if I had a bed in my house to which I replied 'Of course' so I gave up my bed for the night, but it was a privilege to have him at my home. I cooked dinner for him and after he went into the sitting room to study. At this time he was taking the exam for his helicopter's licence. He went to bed early and got up early the next morning, had a shower, a glass of water and off to Fiorano to begin testing again.

How did you see Gilles’ teammate, Scheckter?
Between Gilles and Jody there were never any problems. They were very good friends and discussed everything together. I think they were the best couple of drivers in Formula One that I have ever known. Jody was less of an introvert. He was always good fun. They laughed a lot together. However, Jody always told Gilles that he would never win a World Championship the way he drove, because it was not only winning races, but gaining points that counted. But Gilles was Gilles, give him four wheels and a steering wheel he would drive anything until it wouldn't go anymore! This two men were really special. They worked hard, but knew how to enjoy themselves. They use to come into my office and take out the tape from my typewriter, close all my drawers in my desk and throw the keys away or hide them somewhere. I had to call them at home in Montecarlo to find out where they had put them!
Gilles and Maranello – was it a special relationship?
Everyone loved Gilles. Everyone. When he died someone, a fan of course, wrote in the middle of the road outside the Ferrari factory 'Gilles forever, we love you'. If you go to the road which leads to Fiorano, a road which is named after him, you will find  a monument to him. Every day someone places fresh flowers on it. I think he was one of the most loved drivers we ever had.

Did you ever go to the races with the team?
Sometimes. I went to the Canadian Grand Prix, the South African and Detroit. I also went to Imola. I loved Imola because it is an easy track to get in and out of, unlike Monza. On the other hand I was needed at home. Enzo Ferrari never went on holiday therefore could not understand why anyone else ever wanted to either. Once I went to Silverstone without asking him and he wasn't very happy about that...I never did this again. I never went somewhere without asking his permission.
After Jody came Pironi. What are your memories of him?
I liked Pironi. I liked all my 'boys'. We called him 'Ciccio Bello' because he was well built and of course a handsome man. Everything was alright between Gilles and Didier before the race at Imola. I don't know what happened, what Didier thought, what they were thinking at the pit wall, but after that race it was finished between them. Everyone was upset in Maranello, but I have never known what really happened. They never discussed things like this with me. As I said, I was only a secretary! It was a pity because to see how they were before Imola and how they were after was very sad.

Only thirteen days later came Zolder….
Yes, I was wondering because Gilles was in a different state of mind at that time. We know the story that Didier went a couple of seconds faster than Gilles in practice and I think that Gilles was angry to think that Didier was in front of him and that is why he wanted to go out again and beat him.
I don't know, but maybe they should not have let him out in his state of mind. I suppose it's destiny...everyone has a number and when it is your turn there is nothing you can do about it.
It was the same when Michele Alboreto died. I heard the news from the TV. I couldn't really believe that it had happened. I suppose one should not get too close to these people because one suffers even more. My only regret regarding Gilles is  that I was not able to go to Canada to attend his funeral.
It was the last big tragedy in the life of Enzo Ferrari. How did he take it?
I don't know. He never said anything. In the sense of fatal accidents he was very quiet. He continued on every day with racing.  Even if one does not want to hear this, but when you loose someone dear to you, life has to continue, there is nothing you can do to bring these dear ones back.

Do you have a special personal memory of Gilles?
When the microwave oven first came out Gilles wanted me to have one. But unfortunately he died before he could give it to me. The firm who made them was a sponsor for Gilles. They sent me a microwave after his death. They said this was one of Gilles' last wishes. I still have the letter.
If you look back to all the Ferrari drivers in the past 50 years you worked with Ferrari – how do you see Gilles amongst them?
Oh, they are all my boys. I loved and still love them all. Maybe one is funnier than the other and maybe one is nicer than the other, but all in all they were all the same for me. I have experienced different opinions, when a driver is good and wins they are on top, when they loose, they are down. But not for me, if you are on top, you are on top. If you are down, then you are down.  I don't care if they loose or win. They are the same persons to me. Fortunately I still have good contact with many of the drivers I took care of; Jody Scheckter; Stefan Johansson; Rene Arnoux; Patrick Tambay; Gerhard Berger; and Jean Alesi. I was fortunate enough to be in the Racing Department of Ferrari at the right time. I was privileged to work with and for a wonderful intelligent man. We had our ups and downs, but it was a fantastic time.




Címkék: 1982 1977 Enzo Ferrari Maranello Niki Lauda Jody Scheckter Michele Alboreto Didier Pironi Gilles VIlleneuve Brenda Vernor

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Patrick Tambay was Gilles Villeneuve’s closest friend among Formula One drivers. They both arrived in Formula One in the summer of 1977. Five years later, in March 1982, Tambay thought his adventure at the pinnacle of racing was over.  He left the Grand Prix scene and sought employment in other forms of racing. Three months later he returned to Formula One in a manner he never dreamed the wheel of the famous number 27. The car of his dead friend.


When did you and Gilles first meet?

We first met in Trois Riviers in 1976. It was a Formula Atlantic race.  James Hunt was there, so was Vittorio Brambilla. Gilles was running a March car with some kind of film sponsor on it. On one side he was very competitive, but he was also very open and friendly.  He was very good on the track and very nice off the track. I stayed there also for Monday and Monday night after the race. He invited me to his camper for lunch. He had a mobil home and a North American way of doing thing. We shared some very happy and good moments as got to know each other.

What was the common denominator between you that made your friendship possible?

Trust. Openness. I was very impressed by the honest behavior of Gilles. His straightforward attitude. He was gave his friendship so openly. He always had a big smile. He simply trusted people he came in contact with. I intended to do the same.


Were you surprised in 1977 that after only one race with McLaren it was you and not him who was given a contract for 1978?

The situation was simple, he did one race with the M23 and although he had an option for more, but he never drove a McLaren again. I had a contract with Ensign.  Honestly, I did not even a contract with them. I had a couple of very good races in England, Germany, Austria and Holland.  It’s easy to say now, but I was suddenly the young up and coming driver. Gilles was also one. I must say that I also had a possibility of a Ferrari contract. But I didn’t believe it would materialized and the Commendatore really wanted to hire a young man. So Teddy Mayer and John Hogan of Philip Morris convinced me to sign for them after the Tuesday of a Canadian CanAm-race. I had a very solid contract in front of me on the table. I had no agent or anybody to discuss it with. I decided it would be more secure to be alongside James Hunt in 1978 and 1979. It was a contract for two years with an option for one more. On the following day I went back to the States where I met Gilles. I told him that I had the contract with McLaren. I also told him that I knew Ferrari might be interested in hiring a young man to partner Carlos Reutemann. I suggested that maybe he should call Marlboro to get in touch with them.

Did you regret in 1978 and 1979 that you hadn’t chosen Ferrari?

In 1978 I did not regret it, but in the following year, yes, tremendously! I was not envious at all. I was happy for my friend Gilles. I even enjoyed watching the race when he was passing or lapping me. His Ferrari was very competitive. I also enjoyed the relationship that he and Jody had. For me it was very hard season in 1979 with a very poor McLaren M28.


After Gilles accidents in 1977 and 1978, were you concerned he might be fired by Ferrari?

He couldn’t have done less. He was doing his thing.  The main pressure was coming from the Italian press. It is the environment they create. But the Commendatore liked Gilles attitude.  He liked the Gilles behavior. He liked the man. He liked the sportsman. He had the final decision. He trusted Gilles so Gilles stayed on.

What was your relationship during these years?

It stayed the same for all the time. Even when we didn’t see each other that much he always shared with me his internal and very personal opinions about different things. He didn’t change at all. Maybe he was little bit more mature, more serious, not smiling as much.  He got more involved with his role as a leading driver for Ferrari. Our relationship always remained the and close.

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Many say he wasn’t out to win the World Championship, but winning the fastest lap and maybe the race. Do you agree?

(Laughing) This was his style! It was his trademark!  It was his attitude! He loved fast cars. He loved owning the fastest lap. He needed a strong car because he was very hard on equipment. His priority was probably to win races rather than to win the Championship. I may be wrong saying that since in 1979 he did very much the opposite by coming second in the Championship what he very possibly could have won. He was a good team mate. He was responsible and professional. OK, he destroyed a lot of cars, but the public, the Italian fans, Enzo Ferrari and also his mechanics gave him credit for his attitude anyway. He was a true racer.

Did you feel that the very strong French F1 family of that time had another close member in the person of this French-Canadian?

We shared the same language. He was a cousin. We always call the French-Canadians our cousin. Indeed he was somehow part our ’family’.



Coming to the hard times:1982. How do you remember that year?

Oh my God…! I still get shivers when I talk about it. The emotions run so deep. It is a long story. In Kyalami there was so much politics because of the superlicense affair. I decided I’d had enough and I went back to America to race in the CanAm series. I thought if I returned I would only drive for Ferrari or Renault. I just left. Then… I got a call from Didier Pironi after Gilles’ accident. I don’t remember when exactly, but it was quite soon after. He said: “I was asked by the Commendatore and Marco Piccinini to contact you to see if you would take Gilles’ place”. I was in Hawaii at my mother-in-law’s home in Honolulu. I asked for 24 hours to think about it.

What was your main concern in saying yes or no?

There was no big concern, but it was rather psychological. It was very, very emotional for me to imagine that I was to sit in the car of my friend who had killed himself just a month before. It was a very hard decision for me.

What kind of mood did you find in Maranello when you arrived?

Paolo Scaramelli, Tomaso Carletti and all the other guys were deeply sad, but very professional. They were very helpful and very concerned about assisting me to cope with the situation in the best way. They are very close to my heart even today.

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How would you recall the remainder of 1982 – from professional point of view and also from psychological point of view?

Psychologically the weight was doubled when after three or four races with the team Pironi had his accident. It was even more drama. There was the definite possibility I could win the Championship. The way the car was going and the way the races developed with the points leaders changing all the time. I still had a chance and I didn’t realize it. Unfortunately, I did not have a manager or an agent or anybody who would just tell me to be careful and go for the Championship. We had lot of stress. There was a lot of tension. All these situations. We’d first run one car, then we’d run two cars, then one car again. There were too many accidents. First Villeneuve, then Pironi, and suddenly they had Tambay who started to winning and scoring podiums. I came back from nothing after just deciding to finish my career and suddenly I find myself in an environment where I was the leader of a top team and I could win races! It was a time of very mixed emotions. I also felt the responsibility of helping the team out of this tremendous depression. It was up to me to pull them out of it. Somehow I didn’t notice it. It came in a way that was natural to me. In the end we managed to win the Constructor’s Championship despite of all the turbulence.

The last big connection between you and Gilles is surely Imola in 1983. What are your feelings about your historical victory?

Oh, it’s so, so, so vivid and present. It is still so strong. It is probably stronger than anything else in my memory! There was a very intense relationship with the crowd. It was intense with the team and with everybody around me. It was a very important moment in my life. Somehow I still live from it, even today. I don’t know… but very, very special!



Címkék: 1982 1983 1978 1977 1976 1979 Gilles Villeneuve Enzo Ferrari James Hunt Marco Piccinini Teddy Mayer Didier Pironi Trois Riviers Patrick Tambay John Hogan Commendatore

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Gerald Donaldson witnessed Gilles Villeneuves’ F1 debut in 1977 and twelve years later his best selling biography on Villeneuve’s life graced the bookshelves of the world. Donaldson recalls the birth of his famous book and Canada’s most famous racing driver.

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What was your connection to Gilles and his family?

I first met Gilles (with Joann) at the 1977 British GP where he was driving a third McLaren in his F1 debut. He was very happy to talk to a fellow Canadian, since hardly anyone at Silverstone knew who he was.

Was Villeneuve well known and loved in Canada?

In his early F1 days he was not well known in Canada, where the main sports are ice hockey and stick and ball games. Later on he became more and more famous at home, starting with his first F1 win in Montreal, after which he received more media coverage. I helped in this regard,as the only Canadian full-time F1 journalist writing for the largest newspapers
and then covering the sport as a TV commentator for the country's two main TV networks. As Canadians became more aware of his fame in the F1 world his stature grew at home, though he still did not have the high profile he had in countries like Italy. Sadly, his death at Zolder and his funeral in Canada finally brought him into full prominence at home.


How did Gilles' life and death drive his fame and legend?

As I wrote in my book, he became a legend in his own time, a driver whose skill and daring personified the ideals of GP racing. His tremendous fighting spirit and pure passion for driving produced so much high drama and deeply felt emotion that he became one of the greatest sporting heroes. His enduring legend owes much to its classic elements of tragedy,
for he was a charming young man of humble origins who achieved undreamed of fame and fortune by giving his all to the sport that ultimately took his life.

When did you decide to write the book?

I had thought about it for several years and while there were other books about him, none of them told the full story. So when a Canadian publisher agreed the full story should be told it gave me the opportunity to write it, after which my book was published in several other languages. It has been reprinted many times and is now also available (along with my Hunt and Fangio biographies) as an e-book.

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How did you  research the book work?

It was very hard work, though very encouraging since everyone who knew him wanted very much to contribute. I spent about three years doing the research and another year doing the final writing.

Did Gilles wife and family cooperate with this research?

Everyone cooperated to the highest degree. My interviews were sometimes very sad, especially those with Joann, Jacques Sr and Gilles' manager Gaston Parent, who probably knew him best and who helped immensely with my project.

How did you organize your research?

I travelled extensively during my research, interviewing people and collecting every available item of material I could find about Gilles' life and career. I organised all my interviews and research into approximately sequential form and began writing from there. The book went through several drafts, with rewriting and polishing occupying at least as much time as the first draft. It was very gratifying for me that the finished manuscript was subsequently used for study at Canada's best school for aspiring writers.

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Did you find anything which was a complete revelation to you about Villeneuve?

I found lots of material that was new to me, and to most people. One example was Brenda Vernor, Enzo Ferrari's secretary, who loved Gilles like a son (as did Enzo himself) and she gave me much inside information.

When did you feel you had everything you needed?

I probably felt I had everything I needed after those years of very hard work researching and writing the story. I knew from past experience writing other books that the finished product is only as good as the effort put into it by the author.

Twenty-five years have passed since your wonderful book was first published. Have there been any changes in your thoughts about Gilles and the era on your part? Would you consider an update to the book?

My book, first published in 1989, is the most highly regarded biography of any F1 driver. Its continuing international success as a bestseller and its worldwide critical acclaim is a tribute not just to my book but also to The Life Of The Legendary Racing Driver himself. Nothing much has changed from my point of view and I would worry that my updating the story might weaken the original rather than strengthening it.


Címkék: 1989 1982 1977 Gilles Villeneuve Silverstone Gerald Donaldson Joanna Villeneuve

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Sergio Vezzali was a Ferrari mechanic from 1958 to 1993. He was responsible for Gilles Villeneuve’s cars while he drove for Ferrari. Still living in Maranello, Vezzali, now 81, fondly remembers Gilles.


When did you first meet Gilles?

On the very first day he came to Maranello. He had his first test there, and I remember he destroyed the brakes after only three laps. He was not very much experienced. Surely, after Lauda he was a big difference, but since Enzo Ferrari had faith in him nobody would say anything. Lauda was a real maestro, a clinical driver. When he sat in the car he immediately heard the slightest difference in the sound of the car.  He would then ask why we didn’t tell him of the modifications we had made.

How was it with Gilles?

He didn’t care much about the car. He got inside and wanted to push it to it’s limits and that was that. I can tell you that when he did his infamous drive in Holland 1979, when he came back to the pits on three wheels after his puncture, he first wanted us to fix the rear suspension because he wanted go back to the race! It was of course impossible.


His many accidents in 1977 and 1978 – how were they accepted?

Mr. Ferrari wasn’t bothered by Gilles’ accidents because he just loved the way he drove his cars. Perhaps the most famous of these was the fight with René Arnoux in Dijon 1979.  It was for the second place and Gilles won in the end. He saw Gilles as an old type of cavalier who went ahead and dueled relentlessly. We mechanics had an awful lot of work with the damaged cars, but we liked to do it.

You also worked with his teammates. What is your opinion on Reutemann, Scheckter and Pironi?

Reutemann was a strange man. When he was ahead on the grid and started from pole he was good and could win. But if he was behind he didn’t make much progress. Well, with Jody, everybody knows, they were friends, real buddies. Pironi – a good driver, not more.

 In your eyes which race was the best of Gilles?

I must say 1981 Monte Carlo. We had our new turbo car which had many difficulties. Gilles had a marvellous race. I like the photo where I show him the pit-board. I  was there with him on the podium.  He had the champagne, but he gave it to me and only wanted some water. Really a great moment.  I got the champagne bottle from him as a present, but later on I gave it to somebody.


 Any personal memories other than when he was on the track?

During the races in Monte Carlo all the mechanics were invited to his villa there, and we had very nice time together. This was a special private party with all the ragazzi. Something else you surely must know; Gilles did many crazy things with his helicopter. He used to fly very low in Maranello which was frightening. Only a few know that he once landed by mistake on a military base not far from here. It caused an alarm to go off and a military fighter jet was sent to check the situation…crazy, as I said.

 How do you remember Imola 1982?

That was criminal with Pironi. They couldn’t match the Renaults, but after the French cars failed Gilles was in the front. He was aware of the fuel and also of the brakes since Imola is very demanding on brakes. Gilles wanted to save the car. It was me who held the sign board SLOW and hold the position. You can see me in every photo. But Pironi didn’t accept it. We didn’t talk about it, but I can swear I was very angry too. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to discuss it with Gilles.


 Zolder, the sad end. Could you recall it?

Yes, very clearly. In the practice Pironi was faster than Gilles by a few tenth of seconds. He didn’t react but sat in his car for a long time.  It was for almost ten minutes almost without moving.  He had his head down. Maybe concentrating. Then he went out. He did his first lap and I showed him the pit-board and then came the second lap… In Zolder the pits and paddock are not very far from the site of the accident. Actually, I saw the car flying… Bad, bad day. Beside being a mechanic I was also one of the truck drivers. After the accident Ferrari immediately called me to collect all of the debris and pack the car and come to home to Italy because he feared the commissars would keep the car for further investigations.

You took part in the 2012 celebration of Gilles Ferrari was it?

In 2012 on the 30th anniversary of Gilles’ death there was a celebration with the old T4 car owned by Giacobazzi. Gilles’ wife Joanna came and we had a really nice day. She was happy to see me again. I was glad to see her too, needless to say.


If you think back to all the drivers of Ferrari you worked with, is there a special place for Gilles in your mind?

As a driver I would say Lauda was in all respects, first class. When he won he always gave some kind of prize to his mechanics.  It was nice of him. But now that my Lauda is at Mercedes…I don’t like it! The others, along with Gilles, I liked Nino Vaccarella, Mike Parkes, Chris Amon, Clay Regazzoni and Mario Andretti a lot!

Why is Gilles a legend even today?

I’ll tell you what I think. Today if you have success it is 90 percent the car and 10 percent the driver. In Gilles’ case it was sometimes the opposite: 10 percent the car and 90 precent the driver. That is what makes him a legend.




Címkék: 1982 1978 1977 1981 2012 1979 Ferrari Gilles Villeneuve Enzo Ferrari Monte Carlo Niki Lauda Imola Zolder 312T4 Didier Pironi Sergio Vezzali Giacobazzi

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Tullio Abbate is a constructor of fine Italian motorboats. In 1981 he organized the Rothmans Trophy race for power boats for Formula 1 drivers. It took place on Lake Como prior to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Gilles won the first of race, but did not participate in the second and last race due to his death at Zolder. Tullio Abbate remembers him.


Where did the idea of a power boat race for Formula 1 drivers come from?
The idea came up in St Tropez while I was sitting with Gilles and Didier Pironi. Then Monti Shadow asked for permission from Bernie Ecclestone who also found a sponsor in Rothmans and Fila. First, we asked 6 drivers to take part and all of them said yes with enthusiasm. Nobody declined. In the end we had Gilles, Didier, Richard Patrese, Bruno Giacomelli, Beppi Gabbiani, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Marc Surer and Eddie Cheever. Our team, Team Tullio Abbate provided boats for each driver plus one spare. The Grand Hotel Villa D’este made their wonderful location as our event base.

How were the pilots chosen?
Gilles knew everybody. Most of them lived in Monte Carlo at that time. We had great time together and by the summer of 1980 we all became very good friends.


You already had a relationship with Gilles, didn’t you?
Yes, Gilles and I had a very special relationship. It was personal, familiar and technical all at the same time. Needless to say he was extremely competent and skilled and he always wanted the maximum. Gilles owned a 36’ offshore boat with the name “No problem” – it was one of his usual often used phrases. His boat was capable of 135-140 km/h which was equal to an Offshore Class 1 speed at that time. He personally took part in the construction of the boats so we were able to choose among the different mechanical solutions.

Did the drivers to handle these boats quickly?
They loved it. In practice, after each lap, you could sense as they picked up speed and began to race. (This video clip shows how they adapted to power boat racing:


How did the event go off?
It was a marvellous occasion. You could feel the real mood of a Grand Prix in the air. Gilles raced with the same enthusiasm and dedication we enjoyed from Formula 1. He won and it created a fantastic atmosphere. There thousands of spectators around the circuit on the shore and in boats and I am sure they still talk about this Rothmans Trophy race even today!

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The success of the 1981 race had a different feeling in 1982...
The second Rothmans Trophy race was not the same with Gilles gone. There were new participants like Prost, Arnoux, de Angelis, Boesel. Cheever won with Alain Prost second. It was only months after Gilles’ death. It just was’t the same. Joanna was present with Jacques and Melanie. Didier had also had his accident by this time which created a problem with our insurance company. Eventually this prevented the drivers from taking part in competitions like ours.

More than 30 years passed. How do you see the situation today?
Comparing what we have today with past is woeful. Today’s drivers are not independent. They are more or less the robots of their sponsors, which is sad.



Címkék: 1982 1981 Gilles Villeneuve Monza Riccardo Patrese Alain Prost Didier Pironi Jean-Pierre Jarier Tullio Abbate Italian Grand Prix Eddie Cheever Beppe Gabbiani Bruno Giacomelli

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Chris Amon was among those who recognised Gilles Villeneuves’s talent very early. What’s more, he adviced his team boss to hire Gilles intead of himself. That’s how he remembers all this.

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Where and when did you get to know Gilles?
I knew of Gilles from his exploits in Formula Atlantic and stories of his battles with Keke Rosberg in that series.  I first got to know him after the Can-Am race at St Jovite Canada in 1977, a race I had finished second in driving the Wolf-Dallara car. Apart from being the driver I was also the team manager and was finding it difficult to do both jobs properly, it was my intention to retire completely from racing at the end of that series anyway so I suggested to team owner Walter Wolf that we find another driver.  Walter was a part time Montreal resident so of course knew of Gilles as I did so it was agreed we would approach Gilles to see if he was interested to test the car and possibly drive for the rest of the season.  This is subsequently what happened.

 How did you see him as a young talent?

It became obvious to me very early on in our relationship that he was an exceptional talent, very quick but at that point fair to say a little rough around the edges and pretty hard on machinery.

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There is a famous story of you calling Walter Wolf telling him... - could you recall it how was it precisely?

I can't really remember the details of my call to Walter Wolf but I think it was after Gilles tested the car at St Jovite and I think I probably relayed to Walter that his lap time was quite a bit quicker than I had achieved over the race weekend. We did subsequently discover that he had missed out the chicane on the back straight on his fastest laps which certainly would have helped the lap times, regardless of that, I conveyed to Walter the fact I thought he was very talented and suggested we run him for the rest of the season.

How was your relation on personal level?

I think our relationship on a personal level was very good and he was very well liked by the other team members. I had some amusing moments with him, at least they are amusing in hindsight. Gilles drove on the road in a fairly similar manner to the way he drove on track, no obstacle to great to overcome. I only rode with him twice, the first time was from the circuit back to the motel at St Jovite after which I swore I would never get in a car with him again, I did however end up going from the motel at Watkins Glen to the circuit, we were running a little late and there was quite a line of cars waiting to enter the circuit, to Gilles this presented no problem at all, he drove through roadside ditches, down the oncoming lane, in fact anywhere the car would fit, we entered the circuit remarkably quickly however with a number of members of the local Sherrifs department in tow. After that I made absolutely sure I never rode with him again.

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Did you speak also with Enzo Ferrari about Gilles' hiring or after his catastrophal two debut races?

I didn't speak with Enzo Ferrari about Gilles but I did speak to one or two of the team personnel about him, I'm struggling to remember who, suggesting that I thought he was a very good prospect for the future.

You drove against many greats like Clark, Rindt, Stewart. Was Villeneuve in the same league?

It is difficult for me to compare Gilles with people such as Clark, Rindt, Stewart etc because I never raced against him but comparing his performance against people that I did race against I would suggest that he was certainly in that league.

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How do you see his carreer at Ferrari? You know Ferrari from inside and the Commendatore. Why was Gilles a driver for them?

By the time Gilles arrived at Ferrari I think things may have changed somewhat compared to my day, I feel the Montezemolo, Lauda years had probably done that, but I think Ferrari himself would have very much liked Gilles slightly outrageous driving style and on track antics.

Did you keep contact when Gilles drove for Maranello? When did you talk for the last time?

I didn't have any direct contact with Gilles after 1977, I came back to New Zealand at the end of that year to live and it was to be some twelve years before I went back to Europe for a visit. I did have some indirect contact with him through one or two journalists that I kept in touch with.

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Knowing his driving style was it almost a destiny for him dying in a racing car? How did you get the news of Gilles' death?

I actually didn't have any concerns about Gilles being likely to die racing, obviously you could never be sure about mechanical breakages and their like, but I always felt he had brilliant car control which would keep him out of trouble. Given the events leading up to his death I have always thought that he probably was not totally himself when the accident occurred. At the time he died it was the middle of the night in New Zealand so I learned of his death via a morning radio news broadcast.

How is your link to Maranello today? Do you visit them - are they inviting you for some occasions?

I'm ashamed to say I haven't been back to Maranello since the seventies, I receive invitations to the ten year anniversaries but for various reasons I've become a reluctant traveller as time has passed.


Címkék: 1977 Ferrari Gilles Villeneuve Enzo Ferrari Chris Amon Maranello Walter wolf st. Jovite

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Bobby Rahal was one of Gilles Villeneuve's hardest opponents in America. This is how he recalls their early days.

You raced many times against Gilles. Do you remember the first time? Did he come with a reputation?

The first time I raced against Gilles was the opening round of the 1975 Player's Formula Atlantic race at Edmonton, AB. I qualified 2nd for the first race but had electrical issues on the pace lap and finished many laps down due to numerous pit stops. I can't quite remember where Gilles qualified and/or finished. I certainly had heard of him, most notably from is accident in 1974 where he broke his leg!

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In your mind, do you think he drove any differently once he got to Formula One?

Gilles always drove as if each lap was his last. He had tremendous car control and he relied on that. I don't know if Gilles had any pace other than flat out! As you know he drove many great races in F1, notably the 1981 Spanish GP, where in a car that shouldn't have won, did so. I don't ever remember Gilles driving "angry" because of something someone did in the race, but he was willing to take great chances for even a lesser placing (1979 French GP).

The American racing community is famous for it amicable mood...was it like this in the 70s?

Yes, perhaps even moreso. We were all young, trying to get to the top, and going from race to race was like a circus. We ate together, drank together, laughed together.

In the famous race at Trois Rivieres that included James Hunt, Patrick Depailler, Alan Jones and Vittorio Brambilla to name but a few, you qualified near the front and finished 5th. What was it about that race that sticks with you?

We all loved Trois Rivieres because it gave those of us over here the chance to show our "stuff" against the guys from over there! We all wanted to show the World that we could compete against the best F1 & F2 drivers of the time - and we did, with Gilles winning in 1976. The rest was history for him. It was a great victory and I think raised our own perceptions of where we stood against those drivers.

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A number of drivers from the era who raced in Formula Atlantic eventually drove in Formula One. Was that your goal as well?

F1 was absolutely the goal! And of course I did drive the 1978 Canadian and U.S. Grand Prix. Unfortunately I did not really have a champion as Gilles did (Ray Wardell) to promote me to those in the know. Ray really turned Gilles, in my opinion, from a very fast driver to a race-winning driver.

After Gilles one-off drive for McLaren and he returned to Formula Atlantic, did he seemed to have changed?

No. For as long as I knew Gilles, he was the same from the day I met him til his death.

Were you surprised when he was picked up by Ferrari?

Not particularly although I thought it was wonderful for him. Talk about starting at the top! And of course he repaid that decision by Ferrari with many wins.

At the end of the 1978 season you again drove against Gilles when you drove for Walter Wolf in his Formula One car. Did you get a chance to chat with your old foe?

A little bit, but as always, everyone has a job to do and there wasn't much socializing on an F1 weekend.

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You drove in that famous race in Montreal where Gilles won his first Formula One race right on his home track. What was that weekend like?

Cold, wet, miserable. Yet I was having a very good race until mechanical issues ruined my day but what a day for Gilles. To win his first GP for Ferrari and to do it in his own country .

Did you ever have contact again?

Not really as we were going in different directions.

Looking back over more than 30 years, how do you see his legacy in Formula One and North American racing?

One of the best for sure.

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In the Indy 500 and the Indy series, you drove against Jacques, Gilles son and Jacques, Gilles brother. Were they similar or different types of drivers?

I drove against both of course. I personally don't think either of them were like Gilles.

Lastly, what do you think of Jacques returning to this year's Indy 500?

I think he'll find it a very different race from 1995.


A special thank for Allan de la Plante for the text and Robert Murphy for the photo.

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Címkék: 1976 Ferrari America Indy 500 Jacques Villeneuve Gilles Villeneuve James Hunt Bobby Rahal Alan Jones Trois Riviers Patrick Depailler Vittorio Brambilla Jacques Villeneuve sr.

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Frank Dernie an engineer for the Williams Grand Prix team during the era when Gilles Villeneuve was at his peak with Ferrari. This is how he saw Gilles looking from the Williams team.


As a young engineer how did you rate Gilles when he arrived in F1?

Gilles had a reputation as a carefree guy with massive skills.

Did you see him as having special talent?

Yes and no. He had the talent but, it seemed to me lacked either the intelligence or maybe the application to put together a championship. He seemed to live for the day and not plan for the future at all. He seemed not to have good "mechanical sympathy" which is very important to be a champion.

Did you have any kind of professional or personal contact?

Personal a bit but no professional contact. Back then Patrick Head and I split the races 50:50 but I did all the testing, so I saw Gilles often and he was the main opposition to Alan Jones.


In 1979 you had the FW07 against the 312 T4. How do you look back on this season of fighting with the Ferraris?

It was the first year we had a fast car. We brought it out late and had quite a few reliability problems, it was a learning year for us. The Ferrari was a fabulous engine and gearbox in a poor chassis with weak aerodynamics, when both were running well it was over 1 sec per lap slower than us but we did not score in enough races.

How was Gilles seen as a driver by Williams?

He was the only driver respected by Jones. We loved to watch him in qualifying and races. We didn't expect him to win the championship. He had speed but made too many mistakes.


Was there, to your knowledge, an option for Frank Williams to hire Villeneuve?

The opportunity never arose, so we did not discuss it.

Why do you think he has become such a legend?

Spectacular driver who was killed, I suppose.

You were also working in Formula One when Gilles' son Jacques was driving for Williams. Can you compare them for us?

I got to know Jaques well. In terms of sheer speed I don't think he matched his father at all, but in terms of intelligence and application to getting good results he was very much better and he won the championship, which I still think Gilles never would even if he had lived. I liked the man, loved the spectacle of him driving, but he was never a hero to me. I do not consider him one of the great drivers.


Címkék: Ferrari Williams Gilles Villeneuve Alan Jones Frank Dernie 312 T4 Williams FW07

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Jeff V. Hutchinson was a prominent member of Formula 1 journalists who followed the sport during the romatic era of the 1970s and 1980s. He has his own view of Gilles Villeneuve.

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Did Ferrari take a big risk hiring Villeneuve to replace Lauda at the end of 1977?

Not really, he was obviously a quick driver and better he was driving a Ferrari than for the opposition.

What did Enzo Ferrari see in Gilles which convinced him to keep him for 1978?How do you compare Gilles to Reutemann and Scheckter?

Enzo was always drawn to the 100 percent racers, even if they had their faults. Gilles new only one setting - flat out, and that adhered him to Ferrari more than anything else. Reutemann had the opposite temperament to Villeneuve which probably made him the ideal partner for his first season in which to establish himself with Ferrari. In speed there was little to choose between Villeneuve and Scheckter, but Jody knew when to save his car and go for points instead of glory which gave him the title.

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How was Gilles seen in the British media? Did you regret that he landed at Ferrari and not at McLaren?

Gilles was loved by the Media as he always provided an exciting story whether he won or not! Had he stayed with McLaren he would not have gelled with the team the way he did with Ferrari whose hot southern passion matched those of Gilles.

How was he on personal level? I’m sure you have a few personal stories about him? Can you tell us what still resonates with you?

I always found him co-operative and pleasant and a man who wore his heart on his sleeve. What you saw was what you got and there were no hidden sides to his character . When in Rio one year he gave me a lift to the circuit from the hotel a few times. Even that was a flat out "race" despite being in a little Fiat and with the added challenge of not using the clutch pedal all the way there! While this was going on he was chatting casually about learning to fly his helicopter. The car survived , just, but in the race his Ferrari didn't. In 1982 he was leading from the off on a soft set of types. After a few laps you could see chunks of rubber coming off the overheating tyres and Piquet was closing fast in the Brabham. Every lap he was getting more and more wild trying to hold his lead until he finally spun off and wrapped the car up in the catch fencing right in front of me. I saw him later at the hotel and asked him why he hadn't stopped for harder tyres. He looked at me almost in surprise at my question and said, "It's better to go out of the race in the lead than stop and finish half way down the field." That was typical Gilles and why Jody beat him to the title.


Did you feel that even when he was alive he was already becoming a kind legendary figure of F1?

He was an Evel Knieval kind of daredevil driver and became an even greater legend after his death, but more for his crazy style of driving than for his achievements like Jimmy Clark or Ayrton Senna.

Imola and Zolder 1982 - how did you remember these particular races?

Imola and Zolder in '82 were two races that will always be remembered sadly. When Pironi disobeyed team orders and passed Gilles just before the finish as the two Ferraris cruised to victory, Gilles was furious at Pironi's betrayal. His face on the podium said it all and when he got back to Monaco he asked his friend Scheckter to go with him to Maranello, talk to Enzo and help him set things straight. By the time he got to Zolder he had a week to brood on the problem and was even more determined to put Pironi in his place on the track. By the time they had used up their new qualifying tyre Pironi was ahead on the grid when Villleneuve failed to be a clear lap. He asked for a mixed set of used tyres and went out for one final do or die lap to beat Pironi's time. The rest is history. Had Imola not happened, perhaps Zolder would not have happened. We shall never know. He had lived by the sword and sadly died by it that day.


In retorspect, where do you see Villeneuve in the history of F1?

Villeneuve will always be remembered amongst that special band of elite drivers who put the excitement into the sport and who paid the ultimate price for doing what he loved.

How was it to work with him as a journalist?

He wasn't a press conference kind of a guy. But get him one on one and talking about his passion and he would light up like a Christmas tree and be fascinating and fun.


Címkék: 1982 1977 1979 Ferrari McLaren Gilles Villeneuve Enzo Ferrari Rio Imola Zolder Pironi Reutemann Jeff V. Hutchinson Scheckter

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A young man from Berthierville became an adoring fan of Gilles Villeneuve. After his hero’s death he began to organize a museum for Gilles. Today, Alain Bellehumeur is the curator of that museum.


When did you catch the Villeneuve fever?

My first job was a journalist. Barely out of school, I was in charge for covering sports in Berthierville and the region. That was in 1978. Gilles had just won his first Grand Prix in Montreal. I was attracted by the talent and personality of Gilles. He was the little guy from Berthier and by his own talent he realized his wildest dream: to be driving for Scuderia Ferrari. Gilles was therefore an example of perseverance and tenacity for us all.

Being a Berthierviller was your everyday life "infected" by Gilles?

People from Berthierville followed the exploits of Gilles in F1. But it was a different time. Without internet. The Grand Prix was not broadcast live on TV. We listened to the radio reports. Through Gilles, we discovered Formula 1.

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How was Gilles seen in his home town?

Gilles had always remained close to his old friends and often came to Berthierville. Despite his superstar position, he remained simple. When he had time to come home he’d phone his friends and they’d treck through the sandpits of the region. Each of them, including Gilles, took turns at the wheel of their modified truck. I think Gilles appreciated his escapades in Berthier’s outback. It was probably a way to keep feet on the ground, to know his roots and to live a few hours without the stress of  F1.

What did you do when you heard the news of his death?

I received a phone call early in the morning. A Montreal journalist told me of the accident in Zolder. He told me: “This is serious. I would like to meet you in Berthierville.” An hour later, this reporter and a photographer arrived at my home. Upon their arrival, I was listening to special reports on the radio. Finally, the bad news was confirmed. I could not believe it. Gilles had survived several accidents in races. But not this time...

What was a general mood in Berthierville after losing their darling son?

Berthierville was in shock. People were struggling to believe it. If F1 had lost its most spectacular driver, Berthierville had lost its most famous son. Gilles’ close friends were dazed. Everyone, even if they were not racing fans, were sad. The whole of Berthierville mourned their champion.


Do you have memories of the funeral?

I remember it very well. I took part in the volunteer committee established by the city to organize the ultimate tour of Gilles in Berthierville. Thousands of people viewed Gilles’ remains at the cultural center. There were thousands along the street to greet their champion when his coffin was moved from the cultural center to Berthierville’s cathedral. I remember Jody Scheckter was there to represent Ferrari in the small office of the manager of the cultural center. He discussing the funeral arrangements by phone with Enzo Ferrari who was too distressed by the death of Gilles to make the trip to Canada. At the church, the coffin was covered with a checkered flag. Everyone present knew they were living in a page of our history. Many wept, especially when Gilles was brought out of the church. Thousands of people had invaded Berthierville...a quiet town of about 5000 people...that day, the people of Berthierville really understood the incredible popularity and the global reach of their fallen son.


What kind of connection did you have with Gilles' parents and his brother Jacques, and also Joanna and the children?

Upon the death of Gilles, I was a journalist in Berthierville. I knew Gilles’ parents, Georgette and Seville quite well. We often talked. In 1981, they helped me present an exhibition in tribute to the Villeneuve brothers, Gilles and Jacques. Mr. Villeneuve was the honorary chairman of this exhibition. This was Gilles last visit to Berthierville. It was in September 1981. He died on May 8th the following spring. The museum is also very close to his brother Jacques. He lent us many collectibles. He is also our chief instructor for the karting camps offered by the museum. Gilles’s wife, Joanna, also lent several trophies and other memorabilia from Gilles’ career at the opening of the museum, which was 25 years ago. Melanie and Jacques, Gilles children, have participated in various activities organized by the museum over the years. Jacques even met us a few times in his Montreal restaurant for some of our fundraisers.


When came the idea of the Museum?

Following the death of Gilles, the volunteers who organized the funeral realized the magnitude of Gilles popularity. The impact of his death affected the entire planet. The shockwave was powerful. We knew we must do something to keep his memory alive. There was the birth of the Berthier-Villeneuve committee, a group of volunteers, in 1983. A park was named Gilles-Villeneuve in Berthierville, in 1984. In the center of the park, a symbolic podium was erected. A bronze statue, life-sized, was added to the top step of the podium in 1985. Gilles had come home! A museum first opened its doors in 1988. Finally, in 1994, the current museum, located near the major highway through Berthierville, welcomed its first visitors. Since then, every year, people from over thirty countries stop in Berthierville to remember Gilles Villeneuve and his exploits. Over the years, nearly 300,000 visitors have passed through the doors of the museum.


Can you tell about me about operating the museum?

For a museum located in our region, welcoming so many visitors year after year remains a challenge. We are pleased to have contributed to keeping alive the memory of Gilles Villeneuve. Our mission remains: to perpetuate the memory of Gilles Villeneuve over the years and generations. We have worked with passion for over 25 years. The Gilles Villeneuve Museum is simple and intense, like Gilles. The passion that drives all the little museum team is like the one that inspired Gilles Villeneuve at the wheel of his cars. Intense and strong!

What are the main goals for the future? What is your main task as director?

The future? The Gilles-Villeneuve museum has added karting to its website. We will use electric karts since the museum is located in the heart of Berthierville. This addition will be a wonderful complement to a visit to the museum. The project is large. We are looking for partners. Notice to enthusiasts racing Investors!


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Címkék: Canada Ferrari Gilles Villeneuve Berthierville Zolder Alain Bellehumeur

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Alan Jones, Formula 1 World Champion of 1980. He had many classic fights against Gilles Villeneuve. That’s how he recalls the Canadian in 2014 from Down Under.


Lets start with 1977 when Niki Lauda resigned from Ferrari; there were a hint that you were considered as his replacement. Is there any truth to this story?

In 1977 I actually signed a contract with Ferrari. If they not able to secure Mario Andretti, I would get the drive. Then I find out Andretti signed for Lotus and we were then told they had signed Gilles. Every time I out-qualified the Ferraris in 1980 I would to wave to Ferrari .

Alan Jones in the Williams FW07B finished 1st, with Carlos Reutemann placing 2nd at the 1980 United States GP East-herowide.jpg

What is your first memory of the Gilles?

Well, I was fortunate enough to race against Gilles in a Formula Atlantic race. He was very talented and had great car control and a little reckless on occasion. I remember the 1979 race in Zandvoort where his back wheel was held on by a brake line. There were other people on the circuit to consider.

1979 was a great year for both of you. How do you recall this season?

The thing that stands out is the emergence of the FW07 being a great car that could fight for the lead for a number of Grand Prix. The points we got were not to my liking.

You had many classic fights; did you enjoy racing against Gilles?

Yes, obviously he was a tough competitor, if you passed Gilles you had to earn it. A classic duel in the Canadian Grand Prix I got faster when my fuel load lightened. We rubbed wheels into the hairpin and I got by, but he hung onto my exhaust pipes right to the end.


You fought in two epic Grand Prix, Holland in 1979 and Monaco in 1981. Could you describe them from your standpoint?

In 1979 Gilles spun off and knocked his back wheel off. He then drove all the way back to the pits on three wheels! Monaco for me was disappointing. I was leading then had a fuel starvation problem which we tried to sort out, but couldn’t. It was a pit stop issue.

Was Gilles really special in his generation or just a daredevil driver who became immortal because of his tragic death?

He was special because of his car control. He did generate this aura because of his death. He was the perfect Ferrari driver always driving ten tenths.


Did you get along along off track?

We met socially a little bit during testing. I never socialized much with anyone other than a few times with Hunt and Scheckter.

When you look back on your career and the great drivers you drove against, who are the most memorable for you and where does Gilles rank among them?

Drivers like Gilles, Nelson Piquet who was also tough to drive against, you could always race wheel to wheel with them and feel like it would work out ok.

When you heard of Gilles’ death what did you feel?

Like everyone in the world, I was saddened by his death and we had lost a great F1 driver.

Down Under is Gilles mythic?

Tifosi Down Under love Ferrari and Gilles.


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Címkék: 1980 1977 1981 1979 Ferrari Monaco Williams Andretti Gilles Villeneuve Zandvoort Alan Jones

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25 Years ago, at that Grand Prix, two French spectators were present as guests of French petroleum giant Elf. They had come by private jet from Le Bourget airport, north of Paris. It was the first time they had met.

Twenty-five years later the two are still together. More significantly for working journalists’ purposes, the fruit of their professional collaboration – the immensely useful compendium known as Who Works in Formula 1 – is also still a key part of the motor racing scene.

Only they can speak with certainty about their own relationship. But in professional terms, theirs was a marriage made in media heaven.

François-Michel Grégoire had been closely involved on the sponsorship front with the AGS F1 team as well as with Lotus and Williams. His partner was already well versed in the intricacies of publishing and graphic design in the service of corporate identity.

They shared a passion for mechanised sport: why not turn their hobby into their work?

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The first challenge: earning the trust of the unique and sometimes closed world of Formula 1. If you are not a ‘paddock’ insider you can find yourself well and truly on the outside. Grégoire’s F1 links helped in that regard, as did a carefully planned and industriously carried out plan of attack.

Their presence soon became a joint and familiar one on the motor racing circuits of the world; they were into ‘networking’ long before it became a buzzword.

Their plan: to create a new and unique tool that would be released at the very beginning of the F1 season for the ever-increasing number of media following motor sport, whose sphere of influence is not just Europe but the entire world.

Their brainchild, Who Works in Formula 1, this year celebrates its 25th year of publication. Such longevity alone would make the book stand out in a motor racing universe where even superstars come and go with astonishing rapidity, if you will pardon the pun.

The key to its success? A new approach, bringing together all of the information a hard-working journalist could possibly need to get started on the trail of the next big story, to get at the personality behind the next interview, to get to the people who make the high-speed world of Grand Prix racing go round.

The second challenge: finding out, compiling, organising the many thousands of pieces of information required, then editing and arranging them into a format that would be easy to use both in an intellectual and a physical sense.

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It may have grown over the years, but the unique resource that is Who Works in Formula 1 is still just the right size to slip into a computer case or work-bag. For many it is the first thing they look for after their passport.

The F1 volume was soon followed by others in specialist areas such as the World Rally Championship, CART/IndyCar racing and NASCAR. Grégoire and mate have since rationalised those multiple volumes into the sister publication Who Works in Motorsport, introduced in 2005 with similar success.

So much success, in fact, that both books are now collectors’ items as well as tools for working journalists, prized for their unique format and especially for the access they provide to a world that would otherwise remain a secret to its most enthusiastic followers.

That enthusiasm is summed up in the high return rate of Who Works buyers and supporters. The Guides now sell in over 70 countries and TAG Heuer, Mumm, Total and names like these have backed Who Works for over 20 years.

The internet has only enhanced the appeal of the Who Works formula, the network of relationships so carefully constructed by the authors translating into a successful exploitation of the ‘global village’ that is the worldwide web. The Who Works in F1 - 2014, 25th anniversary editior will be availble mid March and 2014 being a year of major change for Formula One,  Who Works in Formula One with help you to find your way and contact  the right person or company with the most up to date information available. 

Visit our website

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Címkék: 2014 Formula 1 Who Works

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Emerson Fittipaldi - living legend of Formula 1. Emerson has many memories and stories from the 1970s. He talked about Gilles Villeneuve from his Brazilian home.


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A kind of parallel between you and Gilles; you started with World Champion team Lotus in 1970 and Gilles with World Champion team Ferrari in 1977. How is it when a novice joins a famous team? How do you remember it in your case?

Well, I found myself really in a famous team with Lotus and Colin Chapman. For me it was a big step, since I arrived in Europe only the year before. I jumped from Formula Ford to Formula One in one year! It was just fantastic! I had a great opportunity and I must say I was very excited.

You had immediate success, but Gilles had a rather difficult start. How do you remember on Gilles' debute?
His first race was, I remember quite clearly, in Silverstone with McLaren. And I know that in the practice he was spinning all the time, many, many spins. But as it turned out it was Villeneuve’s style, a very agressive one. Although, he had sensational car control, he was always on the limit, and sometimes over the limit. He probably liked it that way. The fans liked it for sure. He was his own show on the track, always.

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How was Gilles’ first full season 1978 from your point of view?
Oh, that was good. I was very happy to finish second in the Brazilian Grand Prix in a Brazilian car. Everybody was excited about the whole Copersucar team, including myself. Ferrari was strong so Carlos Reutemann won in Brazil and all South Americans were happy, but Villeneuve was behind us, I think.

How was your personal connection? You as the double World Champion and he the greenhorn?
Oh, I liked him a lot. He was nice guy, and had a real passion towards motor racing. When I arrived in Formula One I was also very enthusiastic. I had the support and advice of veteran drivers like Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt. They all helped me at the start of my Formula One career. I was still very young to be a World Champion. It was like Vettel today. I hope if a young driver goes to Vettel, who is still very young as four time World Champion, he will be ready to talk to him. Also, in my time, every year a few new drivers got to Formula One, some of them good, some of them not so good. But Gilles was extremely fast from the very beginning and one could see he was good. In my time the drivers were much closer to each other because of the high risk. This is why we all helped each other, even outside of the car.


What is good advice for a young driver? You can not say them: don’t hurry just be patient.
It’s difficult. It’s all about the risks? It is different for every driver. For Villeneuve, as said, it was his style, being reckless. But if a driver put someone else in a critical position by taking a foolish risk, then you have to talk to him.

Did you have problem with him? Was he a "danger" on the track?
No, I never had an issue with Gilles, no. When I ran with him he was always fair, no problem ever.

Villeneuve's only chance to become Champion was 1979 at Ferrari, beside Scheckter. He was beaten despite being the faster. How did you see their relationship?
Difficult to judge now. I think, both drivers were very fast, Jody maybe in another way. I know, Jody was very fast! I don’t remember what happened to Gilles, I just know both of them were very competitive.

If you had a chance would you have hired Gilles to your Copersucar team?
I had a similar driver in 1980. He was Keke Rosberg. He was very much in the style of Gilles. I was very satisfied with him.

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Rindt, Peterson, Villeneuve - the fast heroes of the 1970s. Are they the same caliber in your eyes?
I don’t know about the caliber, but their styles were very similar. All of them had the same approach, magnificent car control and style of driving. Great guys.

Why is Villeneuve a legend even today?
Because he was a showman in every sense of the word. He always gave everything in every practice, every qualifying, every race and he was wonderful to watch. Everybody was delighted with his performance. With this he created an image which remains in people’s memory to this day. It was great to watch him behind the wheel.

You retired at the end of 1980 - Gilles died in 1982. Did you keep contact with F1 after you left the scene? How did you feel learning he had crashed fatally?
I was in Zolder when it happened… It was a big shock for me and everybody, needless to say. Sadly, his death was still part of the great risks of that time. It was very unfortunate.


A special personal memory of Gilles?
I remember right from the Mosport in Canada in 1977. In practice, when Gilles first drove a Ferrari, he had a huge spin right in front of me! Then he went backwards for a while. I had to stop almost completely to avoid an accident. There we were, nose to nose almost, and I saw Gilles big eyes. I was a little bit shocked that he might crash the car. That was our first, let’s say meeting.


Címkék: 1982 1977 Lotus Gilles Villeneuve Colin Chapman Copersucar Emerson Fittipaldi Jody Scheckter Jochen Rindt Zolder Keke Rosberg Mosport Jackie Sewart

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Mario Andretti, World Champion of 1978, at 74 years of age, is a living legend of Formula One. He spoke to me about an another legend who died at just 32: Gilles Villeneuve.


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What is your first memory of Gilles?

It was when he had his first ride, I think, with McLaren. Basically there was a lot of interest in him in the sense what he would do. He was very interesting during his early career, he was very successful in the other areas of racing. He was one of those characters who created a lot of buzz. He was an easy guy to get next to and become friendly with.

Did you find you had something in common both being from North America?
Yes, to some degree especially when you look at Formula 1. Usually Americans and Canadians don't have much representation in Formula One. It was a little bit unusual with both of us being there at the same time. It gave us a special sense of camaraderie because of that.


According some rumours when Lauda left Ferrari you were the hot candidate for his seat by Enzo Ferrari. Is that truth?

Yeah, absolutely. In ''77 right after I won the Italian Grand Prix, I was invited to Maranello and I was offered a contract, but I had given Colin Chapman my word that I would continue with him, unfortunately... (He laughs.) Well, not unfortunately! I would have loved to commit, you know, a hundred percent for Ferrari, but the timing was always wrong for me. This was the second time I was invited officially to drive for Ferrari. The first time was the 1971 season when I won two races for them... But, again, it was always a conflict for me. It was too bad because whenever I was racing, whatever I was driving, just being together with Ferrari for me was something very special.

Gilles was an up and coming young talent in 1978 , your World Championship year. What was his reputation among the drivers?

Well, I though from a standpoint of a colleague, he was very aggressive, no question. You only had to watch him and if you could easily see he was extremely aggressive. When he was hired by Ferrari they probably didn't expect this, still Mr. Ferrari kept him on despite the fact that Gilles destroyed his cars... But Mr. Ferrari loved his heart, I mean the way he applied himself, how much he wanted to win and be successful, sometimes in a destructive way, but that was his way. As time went on you got to appreciate that he was giving a hundred percent all of the time. There is something to be said for that.

Your teammate in 1978 was Ronnie Peterson, and he had some trouble with Gilles on a few occasions. Did you talk to Ronnie about him?
Not necessarily. I don't remember any instance when we discussed Gilles in particular.


How was it fighting against Gilles on the track?
I never had any problem with him whatsoever. As a matter of fact, in Monza 1978, when he and I were first and second and were penalized after the race, I was having some brake problems and stayed behind him, but two laps from the end I took a big risk. I tried to overtake him under braking going into Ascari. He acted very correctly. He did not close the door on me as he knew it could have been a big crash, I don't know if he was aware of my braking problem. Naturally I appreciated that he used his good judgement. I can tell you I didn't have any issues with racing against him. Yes, he was aggressive but he was not an idiot. He was intelligent and a very good all round racing driver. He had huge talent.

In 1979 he was together with Jody Scheckter at Ferrari - Jody won and Gilles lost due a few errors of his. Do you agree?
I don't know. It's possible, but obviously it's easy to make judgements after the fact... But I can't remember any particular situation that comes to mind. I don't want to a be a judge at all.

How was he off track? Did you socialize together? Any special memories?
Yeah, sure. We did some socializing. I remember one instance, when were in Austria and we stayed at Schloss Seefeld in Klagenfurt. We had really fabulous time together. We did a lot of crazy, stupid things. He was just a lot of fun. As an individual, Gilles was a dear, dear guy. He was very likeable. He had a free spirit. He was always smiling. I liked Gilles very much.


Why is Gilles' legend still so vivid?
I think, because he was held in such high esteem by Mr. Ferrari. Everybody respected that. The things what he did, for example in qualifying were so spectacular, his mastery of car control to which he was even enviable. So, that sort of spirit resonates, after a while especially after he gained more experience everyone began to respect him more. He was one of those individuals, one of those drivers who never won a World Championship, but he gained status primarily because Mr. Ferrari just loved him and more than anyone he appreciated his heart…a heart of a lion.

One said he was out there only to win the fastest lap, not more. What do you think?
Well, that's hard to say. I mean, obviously, as you said, he had the opportunity to become a champion, but that didn't work out. It is what it is, I not going to give a judgement on it.


At the end of the 1982 season you drove for Ferrari in the last two races. What was the mood in the Ferrari camp after all that had happened during that season?
That was a tragic year for Ferrari. I'm sure you can imagine. We didn't talk about it, we all felt it, no question. We had a job to do. Life went on. I was called to substitute for Didier. I certainly accepted that gladly, and things worked out quite well for me. I had a lot of experience. At least that part was ok. Quite honestly, Mr. Ferrari needed someone who could deliver in these moments. The season had gone so terribly. No question, Gilles was missed terribly because he was so well liked. He was a very special person.

At Monza that fall, did the season'c circumstances generate a special energy which resulted your pole position and a very good race?
Well, I can't say I did it for anyone, because I usually I go out to do the very best for myself. I was there to do a job. The car, the team, everything was good. I almost immediately felt very comfortable and confident with the car, even though up to that point I had never driven a turbo charged Formula 1 car. It's all about feeling good and having the equipment which gives you confidence. For me it was an experience what turned out very well. My objective was to do it for myself and the team. I had nothing to do with anything else.


That was your farewell to Formula 1. Did you have contact with Gilles' family and of course, Jacques?
Oh, yes. I have contact with them even today. It was in Austin at the Grand Prix that I last saw Joann. I always had a very warm relationship with the entire family. I can mention another fact is that I like to go snowmobiling. They were snowmobile champions, so this was again something to talk about. It is a wonderful family with everybody being racers.

Coming back to 2014 and to you: what is your schedule like, still busy?
Yes, a very busy schedule for me all round. I've renewed all of my contracts. I'll be driving some cars, so I expect it to be a very active season. I am looking forward to the beginning of it.

Could we see another Andretti in Formula 1 in the future?
Oh, I would love to see that. I really would! We'll have to see if we have some opportunities. It would be great to have an all American team or something else to get one of our boys in there… I don't know. I would love to see that for sure.


Címkék: 1982 1978 1977 1979 Ferrari Enzo Ferrari Colin Chapman Maranello Monza Ronnie Peterson Mario Andretti Gilles VIlleneuve

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Ercole Colombo is one the big names among Formula One photographers. A long serving witness with his camera who was and still is a devoted admirer of  Gilles Villeneuve. 

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Villeneuve A Racing Legend! Buy the Book
When did you first meet Gilles? What was your first impression of him?
I got to know Gilles in Pau, France on 5th June 1976 when the young Canadian arrived to race in a March 752 run by Ron Dennis’ Project Four Racing. This was a round of the Formula 2 Championships which was considered real proof of the drivers who would reach Formula 1. Gilles had a reputation of being super fast and had a lot of success and victories in the North American Formula Atlantic Championship. He was a short young boy with a kind smile on his face who quickly showed he could drive through the narrow and punishing streets of this French city which was rightly named the “little Monte Carlo”. The race was very prestigious. It has been said that Pau held the first Grand Prix in 1901. During the decades Pau hosted many F1, F2, F3000 and F3 races. In the Golden Book of Pau you can read the names of great drivers; Nuvolari, Fangio, Villoresi, Ascari, Brabham, Clark, Rindt, Cevert, Depailler, Laffite, Giacomelli, Cheever, Montoya, Hamilton and Grosjean and many others who have a prominent place in the history of car racing. Villeneuve arrived to a difficult circuit which he had no knowledge of, but immediately showed his ability in practice. In the race he retired due to a overheating engine, but he left his mark. An interesting coincidence was he raced number 14 which has been chosen by Fernando Alonso for the coming F1 season! We saw each other again when he made his debut at the 1977 British Grand Prix in Silverstone with McLaren. He managed ninth in qualifying and eleventh in the race despite a pit stop. This performance did not go unnoticed by Enzo Ferrari.
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How was he accepted in Italy after Mosport and Fuji?
The unscheduled resignation of Lauda just before the Canadian Grand Prix allowed Gilles to become the number two in the Maranello team beside Reutemann. But his debut wasn’t an easy one: he spun all the time in practice and also in the race and he retired in the end. Things got worse in Japan where he hit Peterson’s Tyrrell from behind.  His Ferrari was launched into a prohibited area where there were many people. This tragic flight caused two deaths and many others to be injured. In Italy, the press immediately broke into a big cry that Enzo Ferrari had given one his cars to a ‘reckless greenhorn’ who was not up to driving a Formula One Ferrari. But Ferrari rejected all these accusations and confirmed Gilles for the 1978 season.
Italian media and Gilles - did they get along well?
Once this short period of Gilles disastrous debut passed, the relations with him were excellent. Ferrari had a driver who never looked back, kept on racing even when on three wheels and in his own way fired up the hearts of million of fans. The Italian journalists were in heaven with this little Canadian, a true racer. It was no wonder he was nicknamed “Aviatore” and more famously “la febbre Villeneuve”.
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Was it easy to take photographes on Gilles?
Gilles loved photography. He was curious and he wanted to know why I used this and that objective. He often took my camera to looked through the viewfinder. He enjoyed keeping the shutter pressed on motor-drive until it ran out of film! He loved to see pictures of his car on the track.  He wanted to have a better understanding of the state or behaviour of the car during cornering.
What is your best shot on him?
For a photographer it was a sheer luck to have Villeneuve on the tracks. The drifting of the car, the spins or braking with the tires smoking were always highly possibile thus making all shots valuable.
Among the photos I have taken, two images are now considered “famous” Villeneuve images. The first is a controlled skid on the curb and the grass during practice for the Argentina Grand Prix in Buenos Aires in 1981. During three laps he brought his Ferrari to its limits and the grass threw sparks! The second photo I like as much is the famous kiss Enzo Ferrari gave Gilles the day after he emerged unscathed from his terrible accident during the Grand Prix of Italy at Imola. A single shot which shows the affection Ferrrari had towards Gilles. These two images are among those which come up immediately when you search “Villeneuve” on the web.
How was a Grand Prix weekend for you in the 80s? Is it different from today?
We call it still Formula 1, but the environment of the “circus” of the 80s and the current one is completely different. In the 80s F1 was a big family. Surely, desperate opponents on the track, but all friends after the chequered flag fell.  There was not any kind of hostilities. If you missed a spare part, you could often loan it from another team. In the evenings they all ate together or had a party. The next day, of course, on the track, they began the fight again. Today they are all hyper professionals, even young drivers have lost their smile, they are hidden in the motorhomes with their computer or an Ipad. They think only about fitness 
and they speak as little as possible with the media and fans. Those who are  available are rarities.
Some special memories with Gilles?
For Gilles I was the double of Jean Pierre Jarier and in fact he called me Jarier. I have a Canadian flag which he signed. He wrote on it that I was the double of the French driver. Something else we had the common was the passion for skiing. In 1982 I had the chance to ski with him for a few days in Sestriere. Even  on skis he did not know fear.  He always skied at full speed. One afternoon we tried a new trail off the Banchetta downhill. It turned out it was closed because a few days later the Italian Championship were to be held on that hill. We somehow managed stop just in front of a fence they had put there. I took a breath and turned towards the finish finish line. Suddenly I felt a blow on my left and I thought I'd hit some post I had not seen, however, it was Gilles who just hit me!
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How did you see Imola and Zolder in 1982? What do you think of it today?
Imola was the prologue of Gilles's tragedy in Zolder. Only fourteen cars at the start which circulated among the hundred thousand spectators in the stands. 
The agreement was to do a little show for them and from mid-race on the best man would win. Villeneuve made the show by catching up and passing Arnoux in the Renault, then accepted the overtaking by his friend Pironi knowing who deserved the victory.  This is why he didn’t closed to door in front of his team mate at Tosa. Pironi desperately wanted his first Ferrari victory, so he jumped into the lead and won. Villeneuve took this as a betrayal: he did not take part actively in the podium ceremonies and decided not to talk any more with his fellow rival. Until the race at Zolder, scheduled for two weeks later, it left him little time to clarify his position and cope with his anger and dilutions. On the Belgian track he still searched for revenge. Instead of this tragedy waited for him which put an end to the great story of the Canadian driver. Even today, I think that if there were more days between Imola and Zolder then Villeneuve’s anger would have eased and he would have found some kind of rational response to what occurred at Imola. But his destiny did not allow all this.
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Why is Gilles a legend?
Gilles is a legend because behind the wheel of his Ferrari he made us dream. He produced extreme maneuvers which were almost impossible without courage and this is why he is still in the hearts of the fans. Even for the younger generations which hadn’t seen Villeneuve live, the Canadian became a hero because on youtube everybody can watch his acrobatics.
You took many photographe of Jacques, too. How was it with him?
I saw Jacques, son of Gilles, grow up playing with toy cars out of their motor-home. Then I found a teenager. One day I climbed up to a place reserved for journalists at a test for Formula 3. It was his debut with that car and I saw that 
he had the right “handle”. When he decided to race seriously I helped him to find sponsors for the F3 Championship. Jacques is a smart guy, reserved, a very good driver who was able to resist the great pressure from the media for the name he bares. He won it all, but he did not win the hearts of the fans as his father did.

Címkék: 1982 1977 1976 Ferrari Argentina Gilles Villeneuve Maranello Imola Zolder Ercole Colombo Jean-Pierre Jarier

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Mauro Forghieri was chief designer at Ferrari between 1962-1985. He worked together with Gilles Villeneuve for the entire carreer of the Canadian idol. That is how he spoke about him to me. 


What was you opinion on Gilles after the first meetings and tests in Fiorano?

He was a real novice but with a lot of quality of driving. For him the championship did not mean a lot but he liked the wrestling between himself and the car and the race. In this sense he believed in himself much and that was above the safety.

In 1977 Canada and special Japan was catastrophal. Also the first races in 1978. What did you and the team think of his performance?

He was learning and everybody was ready to forgive him.

How good was Gilles in the work with the engineers and with you? His feedbacks? Did he hear your advices?

He was able to stay in cockpit the wohle day to learn. He had very good relation with his engineer and he was believing in me. 


More than 30 years after Gilles' death how do you rate him among the greats of F1?

Gilles is still the most popular driver in the world. I do remember the fight with Arnoux which is classic. The fans liked his approach and he even made them mad. These are behind that so many years after his death he is still considered as a real greatness. Gilles’ enthusiasm created also big enthusiasm int he people. He had such a huge natural strength which planted in everybody a faith towards him.



Címkék: 1982 1977 1981 Ferrari Monaco Gilles Villeneuve Jody Scheckter Imola Zolder Carlos Reutemann Didier Pironi Jarama Mauro Forghieri

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Tom Havlasek is a member of the younger artist generation who is fascinated by Formula 1 and other racing cars in his artistical work.

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Tell me a little bit about of your background.

I´m from Brno, Czech Republic and I live very close to well-known Brno Circuit. As a child I was there with my father nearly every free weekend. I loved the atmosphere of motorsport races and of course I´m still love with it. F1 is my passion since my childhood. When I was a kid I was many times at the Hungarian Grand Prix on the Hungaroring. I was there in 1991-92-93. I remember very well the first feeling of the loud strident engine sound. One of my painting's title is "Ayrton Senna Hungary 1991".

 Who were your heroes and why? Do you have a special affection to a certain team?

I try to be independent. I love motorsport generally. The drivers: I think all of them must be very good and I admire them all. But still, there were some favourite for sure. First Senna because of his thinking and opinions, like „pure driving, pure racing, no politics…” And I remember Jacques Villeneuve who was a hero as well, because he was kind of rebel and Formula 1 was kind of show for him.

How did it begin with your artistical education?

I graduated from a secondary school with specialization on computer graphic design. But already during my studies I preferred hand craft more and more. At that time I started  to present my art works. It was mostly street art paintings or legal graffities painted by spray colors. But as time went on I began become fond of using canvas and waterbased colors because I was simply looking for something more than streetpaintings. Last year I painted only with acrylic colors and my favourit canvas size is 95 x 95 cm, almost without use of a brushes. Nearly everything has been painted by palette-knife.

Can you describe the procedure of your method from the beginning of having the idea?

My philosophy is quite clear. Find an interesting photo or the best way is to take a photo of by myself. Then I choose the best part of the photo and I create the right composition on computer. And then I transfer the motive on the canvas. Usually I paint dirty and not much clear style. I like splashes, drops and blurs everywhere. No clear shades and no fully detailed work anywhere. It could be said that I try to connect abstract and concrete together. But the topic must be always clear and immediately recognizable what´s going on.

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Do you know other artists who paint F1 or motorracing, like Michael Turner? How is the market on this field?

Yes, I know some of them, not personaly, some of them are my friends via internet and we are in contact. I think in the world of art almost everybody are nice and friedly people. There are many thousands of motorsport fans around the world, who are interested in our work.

You paint not only F1 but other racing categories or even road cars. How is it?

You are right, my favorite topic is F1 but also Le Mans and other endurace races. Most of all I like the 70s and 80s. For me this was the "golden era" of motorsport. I must say, I´m quite a big fan of Porsche cars. It means I really enjoy to paint all these Gulf 917 or different modifications of 911, but of course sometimes I paint present cars as well. Usually it is a wish of my fans.


Do you have chance to visit Grand Prix or Le Mans to get some fresh impression? Or you do the paintings mainly after photos and imagination?

Every year I visit some event for taking photos. I was at Le Mans Series in Hungary and on the Nürburgring a few year ago, also at the 24 hours of Nürburgring, WTCC at Slovakiaring and of course all races on Brno Circuit. This year I would like to visit Monaco in May, there will be Classic F1 Grand Prix. Maybe Le Mans as well.

What about your current works and plans for the future?

Now I am working quite a lot since I must finish a series of paintings for an exhibition on the Classic Show 2014 in Brno Wannieck Gallery in March. Right now I finish a painting of Aston Martin nr. 95 - "in memory of Allan Simonsen" and something of Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari. As told, this year I am going to see the famous European classic car meeting the Grand Prix Classic in Monaco, and I will try to present my works there. Actually, those who are interested in the news from my studio could check here :


Címkék: art painting Hungaroring Hungary Porsche Monaco Formula 1 Senna Tom Havlasek Czech Republic Classic Grand Prix

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Mára teljesen feledésbe merült: 1977-ben, az USA Nagydíj után az immár kétszeres világbajnok Niki Lauda meglátogatta Muhammad Alit. Hallottál róla?

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Muhammad Ali mindig is szívesen hirdette magáról: – I am the greatest! Én vagyok a legnagyobb.

Ám csodák csodájára 1977-ben az önimádat mellett el kellett ismernie egy másik nagyságot: Niki Laudát. Az osztrák egy évvel korábban kis híján porrá égett a Nürburgringen, elvesztette az 1976-os vb-címet James Hunt ellenében, ám a következő szezonban – épp az USA Nagydíjon, Ali hazájában – szépen megszerezte a második bajnokságát, és ehhez Watkins Glenben elég volt számára egy 4. hely is.


Rögvest fel is mondott Ferrarinál, nem indult a hátra lévő két versenyen, Kanadában és Japánban, helyette a közeli New York felé az irányt. És itt következett a nagy találkozó pillanata, amikor is a pályája csúcsán lévő Ali „fogadta” a pályája csúcsán lévő Laudát. Mondjuk, mindez egy hotelszobában zajlott, és kicsit furcsa módon. Ali az ágyban feküdt, mint egy király, Lauda pedig odaült melléje, afféle szárnysegédként. De úgy látszik, a dolognak volt reklámértéke, és megérte mindkettőjüknek – ez tűnik ki legalábbis a német BUNTE tudósításából, bár hozzá kell tenni, hogy minderről 36 évvel később szinte semmit sem lehet fellelni az interneten.

Nézzük csak, miképp is zajlott le mindez?

A színhely tehát a Statler Hilton 1570-es lakosztálya. Ali az ágyból köszönti a bajnokot: – Hi, Niki! Örvendek, hogy egy ilyen gyors fickóval ismerkedhetek meg!

Mire Lauda: – Na, mi van, Bajnok, te is meg fogod nyerni a következő meccset?

Ali válasza, szerényen: – Naná, hiszen én vagyok a legnagyobb az egész világon! Viszont te, Niki, én mondom, te vagy a legnagyobb autóversenyző a világon. Amit a visszatéréseddel műveltél, az káprázatos!

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A bokszoló megkérte a Forma-1-es bajnokot, hogy apróra mesélje el a balesete történetét, majd újból bólogatni kezdett: – Öreg, tutira mondom, hogy megérdemelted a sikert.

De aztán elég volt a sok dicsérgetésből, és hirtelen megragadta a köztudatottan nem éppen atlétikus adottságokkal rendelkező osztrák felsőkarját: – Muti, milyen izmaid vannak? Ó, hát itt alig van valami… De biztos sok az eszed! – tette hozzá megengedőleg.

Lauda: – Hát, amikor a lángok között ültem, az sem segített sokat…

Ali: – Tényleg elég szar lehetett, haver.


Elkattintottak néhány fotót még, Lauda úgy tesz, mintha jól bemosna Alinak, aztán a nagy találkának vége.

Lauda évekkel később Heinz Prüllernek, az osztrákok egyik legnevesebb F1-riporterének csak annyit mondott minderről: – Elég nagy hólyag volt szegény. Olyan imádattal vette körbe magát, amit én mindig is rühelltem. De azért nem bánom, hogy egyszer így összefutottunk.

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(A BUNTE magazin 1977. 10. 13-i száma alapján.)

Címkék: 1977 New York Muhammad Ali Ferrari Niki Lauda USA Nagydíj Watkins Glen

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World Champion Jody Scheckter was Gilles' teammate at Ferrari in 1979/80. In this interview he gave me recently he recalls their times together 35 years ago...


- Before you signed for Ferrari you already had a season together in 1978 - you with Wolf, Gilles at Ferrari. How did you see him in his rookie season?
- I had no real thoughts about it.

- Did you already know you would be teammates next season when Gilles won in Montreal beating you in the 2nd place?
- At that stage I don't think I knew if it was going Gill or Reutemann.

- How was your relationship during the first races in 1979? Were you an appointed No.1.?
- Yes, I had it written into my contract and I was number one...

- Was it worrying for you Gilles won in Kyalami and Long Beach? Did you expect him to be so strong?
- I'm not sure what I expected but it certainly made me move to a different level.


- During the 1979 season you were already a matured driver with lot of experience - how much did it help to beat Gilles? I mean your approach to the races, the engineers, to Forghieri?
- The big difference was Gill wanted to win each lap love the image of a dear devil driver which was his weakness and gave me strength.

- You did not have a single mechanical failure in 1979 - was it also mainly due your experiences?
- Probably. I believe I looked after the car better.

- There are many pics from the paddock where you talk to each other. How were these conversations?
- Even though it was very hard both of us always remained very honest to each other and we got on very well and had some great laughs.





Címkék: 1982 1979 Ferrari Gilles Villeneuve Jody Scheckter Imola Didier Pironi Reutemann

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