This morning, at the Fiorano Circuit, one could be forgiven for imagining that Gilles Villeneuve was back on track, when shortly after 10.30, a 312 T4 rumbled out of the pits prior to doing a few laps of the track. In fact, this was a special commemoration organised by Ferrari as a tribute to the Canadian driver who raced for the Maranello Scuderia from 1977 until he died tragically during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on 8 May 1982.
On the thirtieth anniversary of his death, his son Jacques took to the track in his memory, at the wheel of the same car with which his father won three races in 1979 and that his team-mate Jody Scheckter drove to take the Drivers’ Championship title.
Taking part in the event were Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, the Vice President Piero Ferrari, the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the Managing Director, Amadeo Felisa and the engineer, Mauro Forghieri, who was Technical Director in Gilles’ day.
Many fans were drawn to Maranello by the ever present memory of the courageous driver and bringing the event to life, they were joined by Villeneuve’s mechanics, his widow Joann and their daughter Melanie, who had been by his side back in those unforgettable days.