Françoise Conconi was the co-pilote of France’s most famous female rally driver, Michèle Mouton. Beside contesting she worked as a television journalist and in this capacity she met several times Gilles Villeneuve.
What was your impressions of him?
First I met Gilles on the Monaco circuit where I worked for the French TV. Since I live in Monaco, too, I had to write an article on his life. For me he was a fantastic pilot with a big heart and a very interesting person when he spoke about his life. A very good boy.
In your eyes was he the ideal Ferrari driver?
Actually, I think he was the best along with Michael Schumacher. For me nobody had the talent like Gilles and Michael had. No other pilot had such a thirst for the victory.
You saw his with Pironi. What is your opinion on it?
I knew that Gilles and he were friends. But for me Pironi as a driver wasn't like Gilles, Gilles had the upper hand. I think it was difficult for Didier in the Scuderia.
Was Pironi a hero in France?
Yes ... but so was Gilles just beause he was better. For Pironi it was hard after the accident of Gilles because many people thought he was responsible for all what happened.
When you interviewed Gilles you only spoke about F1 and cars?
Well, my article was mostly on his life after the F1. What he thought about his chances he would have had, about his family. He was a good father and a good husband who preferred a simple life. Actually, he was interested in my work of co-pilote of Michele Mouton, and said "I hope one day I can do a rally and then I’ll ask you to be my co-pilote!”
What sort of life they had in Monaco? Did they socialize?
They had a villa with pool, that’s all. You know, Monte Carlo is a little town with good security and big respect of the people. Also the Villeneuves could live a normal life.
How did you see the drama between Gilles and Pironi in 1982?
It's still difficult to speak about it. Nobody likes to discuss this because we admired both pilots and we were friends with them. What I can say, it was very sad for all real passionates.
Can one say that Ferrari management made a mistake?
I don't know. I think sometimes you necessarily run into troubles when you have two good drivers in the same team. As we all know your biggest competitor is your teammate!
Would you rate Gilles among the greatest drivers ever?
For me the best are Gilles, Senna and Schumacher. I think they are equal as top three and all the others come after them.