Gilles Villeneuve was born in Quebec on the 18th January 1950. Car mad from an early age, Villeneuve made a name for himself racing in Canada and America before getting his big Formula One break in 1977 for McLaren after he impressed James Hunt the year before.
|Villeneuve's first start was for McLaren|
Regarded as the fastest driver in the history of Formula One, Villeneuve was also seen to be relentless and even dangerous at times. A key point in his career that demonstrates these qualities is whilst leading the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix he suffered a puncture, yet powered back to the pits at break neck speed, resulting in more damage to the rear of the car. He kept going until the whole car was beyond repair yet even then, he insisted that a new wheel be fitted and he be sent on his way.
|Pushing the limit as always|
On his debut in 1977, his team mate was experienced race winner Jochen Mass. Whilst Villeneuve drove an older spec car, Mass had the latest machine at his disposal. That didn't matter. Despite never starting a Grand Prix, Villeneuve out qualified Mass, placing just ahead of him in 9th place. Despite damage to his car, he still finished a respectable 11th place and set the fifth fastest lap time.
At Ferrari, he was able to keep up with far superior Lotuses, make up a half minute deficit to his team mate in only 33 laps and then there was his wet weather skill. At the 1979 US Grand Prix East, he was 10 seconds faster than his team mate, eventual world championship winner Jody Sheckter. A year later in Monaco, despite using slicks, he was five seconds quicker that the rest of the field.
|Villeneuve's final win at Jarama in 1981|
|The legendary battle with Arnoux|
His style is why many remember him. He was spectacular and unique. But could his approach have been the thing that led to his tragic demise?
|Pironi (L) passed Villeneuve|
|Villeneuve at Zolder|
Approaching a much slower Jochen Mass, Villeneuve's Ferrari smashed into the back of Mass' March, launching it into the air. The Ferrari crumbled and Villeneuve was thrown 50 meters from the car, still strapped to his seat but minus his crash helmet, into the catch fencing at 'Terlamenbocht'. Gilles Villeneuve died later that evening of a fatal neck fracture.
|Jacques Villeneuve took the title in 1997|
Calling a driver the greatest ever is always a difficult claim. There's different eras to compare something that is near impossible. There's no doubt though that Gilles Villeneuve was something special. A man who's talent could be rivalled by very few.
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