In memory it was the chilling wheel to wheel duel Gilles Villeneuve had with Rene Arnoux for the last two steps of the podium on the occasion of the Grand Prix 1979.
G illes was one of those drivers who although had a fleeting presence in Formula One, he left marked thousands of people, especially the “tifosi” Ferrari. Among them Enzo Ferrari himself who was Gilles like a child.
was only present for almost five years . More precisely in the period 1977-1982 seasons .
Born in Chambly, a small town near Quebec in Canada, was born on January 18, 1950 showing since childhood passion for snow sports and speed. Particularly interested by snowmobiles racing debut in 1967 at the age of 17 years.
The snow is not all year round and in summer where Gilles approaches the world of motorsport participating in a few tests with an acceleration Ford Mustang that he himself commissioned to prepare for this purpose. Coming two years after his first participation in the Formula Ford with Magnum and seasoned management style rarely seen at that time and even today. A management style that besides offering 2 wins and the championship, would accompany him to the pinnacle of motorsport and lead to star opposite René Arnoux and Renault a duel wheel to wheel which it is listed as one of the best ever.
In 1974 she climbs into a car in the Formula Atlantic . That’s where you gain experience to achieve in 1976 a total of 9 wins out of 10 races and the Canadian and US championships in category . This performance won several team leaders will pay attention Formula One Canadian small. Especially the people of McLaren , which invited him to play the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1977 where Gilles achieved the eleventh .
On September 21 of that year is Enzo Ferrari who takes the services of “Canadian Flying” to accompany Carlos Reutemann in the team instead of Niki Lauda.
debut in Canada with a discreet twelfth place before having a string of accidents that nevertheless only succeeded Don Enzo will have more confidence . In fact, he piled cars that broke in the door of the factory to Gilles “reflect” to them and even went on to say “I had never seen the belly of my cars until Gilles me showed it. “
The worst accident occurs in the Japanese Grand Prix where clashes with Gilles Peterson’s Tyrrell and flies off the track killing two spectators who were in a prohibited public area. However, others such as suffered in Long Beach, ended up on music videos like the song “Faster” of former Beatle George Harrison .
But Gilles had talent and he did note in their land achieving his first victory with the “Prancing Horse” on the end of the season .
Since 1979, the year in which obtained the most number of race wins in a season with three victories , winning at Kyalami (South Africa), Long Beach (USA) and Watkins Glen (USA), 7 podiums and one pole position. A year that could have gone champion but which though respected the gentlemen’s agreement he had with his new teammate Jody Schekter , fought the title until the end.
Regardless of the outcome this season is remembered for the chilling wheel to wheel duel that Gilles had with Rene Arnoux for the last two steps of the podium on the occasion of the Grand Prix .
Everyone agreed that 1980 would be the year in which Villeneuve was proclaimed champion of the world, no assumed that Ferrari 312 T5 would be one of the worst outings machines Maranello . Gilles finally going to finish tenth second in the tournament adding only 6 units and an equal number of dropouts.
However, upon reaching 1981 Ferrari turbo engine surge and he began its recovery is added to 126C that wins flawlessly in Montecarlo , then get and remembered a spectacular victory in Jarama , which arrive five top finishers with just one second apart .
At the peak of his career was not going to tolerate that no one will snatch the title in 1982 but less would tolerate the betrayal of his friend and teammate, Frenchman Didier Pironi .
Ferrari had also evolved the car last year being able to fight side by side with its rivals.
One Grand Prix in Imola 1982 was characterized by no involvement of Williams, Lotus, Ligier and McLaren teams because they were in a dispute against Federation , leaving served for Ferrari victory that left play its pilots on track with two conditions not damage the car and the one in front at some point must be respected by fellow .
Villeneuve was leading the race when the end of the penultimate lap, as was agreed, from the box show them a sign with the word “slow” . However, Pironi treacherous as not respect the agreement , snatches the first to Villeneuve and wins. The expression of Villeneuve on the podium shows his anger and gives shows that their friendship is over . Pironi had gone too far.
Two weeks later at the Belgian circuit of Zolder, the May 8, 1982 qualifying round Gilles develops and is eighth , but above all, lies behind Pironi.
True to form out of the box all or nothing . Although the ranking points awarded, as a matter of honor must be ahead of France.
Sadly Gilles fate would be in the middle of a blind curve with March of Jochen Mass turning very slow . The Ferrari rammed and flies through the air as he shatters into pieces. Gilles emergency is transported to the hospital in Leuven but fails to survive the wounds died hours after the accident .
Although only won 6 races has, even today, 33 years after his death , the admiration and respect of thousands of “tifosi” and motorsport fans. That May 8, 1982 he left Gilles posterity and started the “Legend of the Flying Canadian Gilles Villeneuve and his Ferrari No. 27”.