Death of the great Gilles Villeneuve, May 8, 1982

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Death of the great Gilles Villeneuve, May 8, 1982
May 8, 2016, 8:34 PM

Gilles Villeneuve, the great Canadian F1 driver, was killed on this day of 1982 in Zolder. Despite having won just 6 GPs during his career, Villeneuve was undoubtedly one of the most respected, fearless and combative F1 drivers of all time.

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Enzo Ferrari and Gilles Villeneuve

Enzo Ferrari and Gilles Villeneuve
1/19

Photo by: Actualfoto

The legendary Enzo Ferrari has always considered Gilles Villeneuve as his “spiritual son”.

A fearless snowmobile racer

A fearless snowmobile racer
2/19

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Gilles Villeneuve started by racing snowmobiles during the wintertime. These purebred racing machines raced on icy ovals at speeds up to 100m/h.

Formula Atlantic times

Formula Atlantic times
3/19

Photo by: Guy Bellerive

Gilles Villeneuve captured the Formula Atlantic title two years in succession, in 1976 and 1977. He’s seen here in his March 75B ready to race at the Mont-Tremblant circuit.

A maiden Grand Prix with Ferrari

A maiden Grand Prix with Ferrari
4/19

Photo by: Guy Bellerive

Gilles Villeneuve contested his first Grand Prix with McLaren in 1977. A few months later, he was contracted by Ferrari, and had to replace Niki Lauda who had left the team. Villeneuve is seen here in the Ferrari 312 T2 at Mosport in Canada.

First test of the Ferrari 312 T3

First test of the Ferrari 312 T3
5/19

Photo by: Ferrari

Gilles Villeneuve is shakingdown the new Ferrari 312 T3 on Ferrari’ test track of Fiorano prior to the start of the 1978 season. Villeneuve captured his first F1 win in front of his home crowd in Montreal in October of that year.

The 1979 Ferrari 312T4 of Gilles Villeneuve

The 1979 Ferrari 312T4 of Gilles Villeneuve
6/19

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Technical drawing the Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari 312 T4 made by Giorgio Piola in 1979. The T4 was powered by a 3-litre, flat 12 engine mated to a transverse gearbox.

1979 French Grand Prix

1979 French Grand Prix
7/19

Photo by: Jean-Claude Loustau

Gilles Villeneuve – sitting in his Ferrari 312 T4 – is talking to Antonio Tomaini, his race engineer during the 1979 French Grand Prix.

Easily accessible

Easily accessible
8/19

Photo by: Jean-Claude Loustau

Gilles Villeneuve was always easily accessible to his fans and other members of the motorsport community. He is seen here in the paddock of the Dijon-Prenois circuit in France.

One stunning fight

One stunning fight
9/19

Photo by: Renault

During the 1979 French Grand Prix, Gilles Villeneuve and René Arnoux, driving a Renault, fought with no mercy over… second place. Footage of the action-filled last laps of the race is often qualified as the best F1 racing action. Here, Villeneuve is seen following race leader, Jean-Pierre Jabouille.

Villeneuve vs Jones

Villeneuve vs Jones
10/19

Photo by: David Phipps

During the 1979 Grand Prix of the Netherlands held in Zandvoort, Gilles Villeneuve made a stunning move, passing Alan Jones (Williams) around the outside of the Tarzan corner.

On three wheels

On three wheels
11/19

Photo by: David Phipps

Later during that same race in Zandvoort, the rear right tire on Villeneuve’s Ferrari exploded. The Canadian did not hesitate one second and decided to drive back to the pits at full speed on just three wheels.

Villeneuve vs Jones, Part 2

Villeneuve vs Jones, Part 2
12/19

Photo by: Williams

The 1979 Canadian Grand Prix quickly turned into a first involving Villeneuve and Alan Jones. Villeneuve led the race until Jones passed him under braking for the bridge hairpin corner on lap 51. Jones went on to win the race to the displeasure of the local crowd.

The catastrophic 3125 T5

The catastrophic 3125 T5
13/19

Photo by: LBGPA

The 1980 Ferrari 312 T5 was a real disaster. It was slow and unreliable. Gilles Villeneuve only managed to get two 5th places in Monaco and Canada as his best results.

Winner of the Monaco GP in a turbo car

Winner of the Monaco GP in a turbo car
14/19

Photo by: Forix

In 1981, Gilles Villeneuve became the first driver to win the Monaco Grand Prix aboard a turbo F1 car.

Never crack under pressure

Never crack under pressure
15/19

Photo by: International Press Agency

Gilles Villeneuve never cracked under pressure. After winning in Monaco, Villeneuve repeated his winning performance in Jamara, Spain. Despite a lag of his V6 turbo engine, he kept his rivals at bay until the flag, beating Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio de Angelis.

The Villeneuve Bros.

The Villeneuve Bros.
16/19

Photo by: Guy Bellerive

Here is a rare photo to the Villeneuve brothers, Gilles and Jacques, together in Formula 1. Jacques tried to qualify this Arrows A3 for the 1981 Canadian Grand Prix, but failed to do so.

First test of the Ferrari 126 C2

First test of the Ferrari 126 C2
17/19

Photo by: Ferrari

Gilles Villeneuve is seen here testing the 1982 Ferrari 126 C2 at Fiorano. We can note the presence of Mauro Forghieri, Enzo Ferrari, Gilles Villeneuve, Tommaso Carletti (back) and Harvey Postlethwaite.

Disaster struck

Disaster struck
18/19

Photo by: Rainer Nyberg

The 1982 began poorly for Villeneuve. He retired from the two first races of the year, in South Africa and Brazil. He was beaten in strange circumstances by his teammate, Didier Pironi, in Imola and then was killed two weeks later when qualifying of the Belgium Grand Prix.

The tribute to Gilles Villeneuve on the start/finish line

The tribute to Gilles Villeneuve on the start/finish line
19/19

Photo by: XPB Images

Since 1982, the Montreal F1 circuit carries the name of Gilles Villeneuve and these famous two words are repainted every year at the start/finish line.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Gilles Villeneuve
Article type Top List