Skip navigation
F1 History Indycar 68

February’s audio podcast (part 1) with Mario Andretti

Welcome to a very special Motor Sport audio podcast. This month we’re joined by Mario Andretti and Brian Redman – such a stellar line-up that we’ve had to cut it into two parts!

indycar history  Februarys audio podcast (part 1) with Mario Andretti

Part 2 will be online next week, but for the time being sit back and enjoy what one of the most talented racing drivers ever, has to say.

Add your comments

68 comments on February’s audio podcast (part 1) with Mario Andretti

  1. Santiago Fernández, 12 February 2010 19:30

    A brilliant piece! Can’t wait till next week!

  2. Stephen G, 12 February 2010 20:51

    Thanks for another interesting podcast.
    At one point I think it was Nigel who said Mario was possibly the most versatile driver ever – and of course he has to be a good candidate for the title, but a few other names sprang to mind :
    - Moss who won in rallies, and everthing from F3 to F1, and saloons to sportscars,
    Clark who frequently won in several different types of car on the same day, and won Indy as well as world championships, and of course
    Graham Hill who drove everything and achieved the unique feat of he F1 championship, Indy and LeMans – any more suggestions?
    Regards, Stephen

  3. joe brown, 13 February 2010 00:28

    1st class.

    Someone please ask Mario,about Mansell!

  4. Mario Carneiro Neto, 13 February 2010 03:48

    Very very nice, can’t wait for next week!

  5. peter walker, 13 February 2010 17:01

    A great podcast as usual, next week should be very intresting.

  6. Masta Kink, 13 February 2010 18:18

    ..wonderful, entertaining reminiscences from two great drivers…roll on next week…..many thanks to all involved at Motor Sport.

  7. Michael Spitale, 13 February 2010 20:30

    The Moss thing is funny when it comes to Brits…. Yes, Moss was great, but does he have an F1 title? No.. Mario does! Mario also won the Indy 500, not Moss, he also won at Sprint car, and the Daytona 500….. Perhaps as an Italian American I am biased, but Mario is clearly ahead of Moss on the world stage….

  8. joe brown, 13 February 2010 23:05

    I’m not a Brit Michael,but Mario was a hero in a time of non entities.

  9. joe brown, 13 February 2010 23:15

    Honestly,the whole thing is like a Mario love fest.

  10. Michael Spitale, 14 February 2010 02:40

    “I’m not a Brit Michael,but Mario was a hero in a time of non entities.”

    so accordign to you from ’65 to ’90 there were no great racers….? Mario did not beat anyone good for the title in ’78? no one good at Indy in ’69? no one good at the daytona 500? come on…. If anything Moss raced in a time where one driver could get out of his car and into anothers….

    I am by no means discounting Moss… I am simply saying Brtis love to run to the foregroud with Moss whenever it seems another is getting too much love

  11. Michael Spitale, 14 February 2010 02:47

    You can really tell Nigel repsects Mario to the highest degree, I think Mario, Moss and of course Giles just bring a spark to Nigel’s step….

  12. Mario Carneiro Neto, 14 February 2010 03:24

    That’s because Stirling’s importance in Britan is above that of just being a racer. They have a true affection for the guy as a nation, it seems, while way too many americans probably don’t really know the scope of Andretti’s awesomeness. Or even who he is…

  13. rob widdows, 14 February 2010 14:49

    Good to see that you enjoyed the chat with Andretti and, better still, the podcast has once more sparked a lively debate.
    Who was the most versatile? It is just impossible to say because each era of the sport is so diffrent. But what is surely true is that never again will we see drivers taking part in so many different categories. And that is a real shame. Wouldn’t it be fun if the “stars” of today were involved in races other than Grands Prix? Imagine, Andretti used to race in the USA on his weekends off from Formula One! And Jim Clark, to name just one, could be seen racing in Ford Cortinas, sports cars and at Indy. In that respect, they were the great days……………..
    I always think that Graham Hill was under-rated as a gifted driver when you consider he won Le Mans, the Indy 500 and the F1 championship. But there are so many ways of approaching such a debate.
    Hope you enjoy Brian Redman next week. We did!

  14. Dave Cubbedge, 14 February 2010 15:44

    Let’s face it, Moss, Andretti, Villeneuve, Stewart……many others, all heroes of motorsport, all #1 in my book. I cannot do what they have done. There are people over here who do not like Mario, I just don’t understand it. He, with AJ and the Unsers painted the face of motorsports in this country for decades. There were many others, some even better on a given day, but these guys…. These guys are the icons of the sport for my generation over here.

  15. Dave Cubbedge, 14 February 2010 17:06

    and after listening…great job everyone! thanks for bringing Mario and Brian to us in this format. can’t wait ’til next week, let along the coming months.

  16. R Tanveer, 14 February 2010 19:37

    If I may make a suggestion:

    Perhaps more than one of our questions could be asked of future guests?

    There were so many questions that were left unanswered and the only one which got any air play was the one re James Hunt.

    I understand the limited time element but I feel a good portion was taken away on Michael’s 1993 season at McLaren when other topics could have been touched upon. Mario, naturally so, seems to be very passionate about that aspect of the Andretti clan’s involvement in Formula One and he brought some further insight into the 1993 Grand Prix season.

    In addition, it was enjoyable to hear of Mario’s Ferrari and Alfa Romeo experiences. Shame that the Colin Chapman and the Lotus years were left out.

    And, yes…the hour did indeed fly by very quickly…

    Keep up the great work.

  17. joe brown, 14 February 2010 23:44

    Mario Carneiro Neto:
    February 14th, 2010 3:24am
    .That’s because Stirling’s importance in Britan is above that of just being a racer. They have a true affection for the guy as a nation, it seems, while way too many americans probably don’t really know the scope of Andretti’s awesomeness. Or even who he is…
    Mario,Moss is a pain in the ass,LH told him to go away in Brazil 2008.
    All Moss wants to talk about is MOSS

  18. Mario Carneiro Neto, 15 February 2010 06:25

    I’ve never met Sir Stirling, but I was talking about how he is viewed in britain by Motorsport fans, the average age of which is probably over 30. I was certainly not talking about some punk kid who right now is probably too self absorbed in his ego to realize who he is blowing off (LH).

    I’ve never read or seen anything that would lead me to believe Moss to be this so called Pain in the Ass. Yes, perhaps he likes to talk about his life, but most of the time people seem to be asking him about it. i guess I just dont see the point in your answer.

  19. john aston, 15 February 2010 18:35

    Because I am an old fart I have never listened to a podcast before; to say I enjoyed this was an understatement. I first saw Redman in the almost forgotten Rothmans 50000 race at Brands and Andretti would have been Brands again at 78 GP- fascinating to hear two articulate and enthusiastic guys talking about the sport I love – and what a contrast to the usually monosyllabic pr gabble of their modern peers. A Raikkonen podcast would have taken ..ermm ..up to three minutes?,

  20. joe brown, 15 February 2010 23:13

    Mario Carneiro Neto:

    That was no punk kid.
    That was the greatest driver since Senna.
    And yes Moss is a pain in the butt.

  21. Steve, 15 February 2010 23:31

    As a 40 year old Brit, I have never been a fan of Moss the man from what I have seen of him on TV. But I have never met or more importantly chatted with him for the length of time it would be required to confirm or disprove my hunch. So there is at least one Brit who is not a member of the Moss fan club.

    I would much rather spend a few hours with the likes of Derek Bell over a pint.

  22. Michael Spitale, 16 February 2010 13:49

    I am surprised the amount of people saying Moss is a “butt”…. I know nothing about him other than what I have read…. He does seem to be bitter about never winning a title, and I am sure his ego is huge as everytime there is a top driver list Brit writers put him near the top….

  23. Garry, 16 February 2010 13:50

    robust debate indeed!

    i think i will steer clear and simply ask for many, many more podcasts like this. Another wonderful piece.

    I cant help but think Keke Rosberg would be worth his weight in gold. Gerhard Berger another…

    Going back to an earlier request, any chance of BCE talking about his days as Brabham boss?

  24. R Tanveer, 16 February 2010 18:47

    I am still absolutely bemused by the lack of any chit-chat re Mario’s Colin Chapman years, the 1978 Formula One season…and into Mario’s thoughts on his two tragic Swedish Lotus teammates and on things like the Brabham ‘fan’ car.

    In addition, Mario’s second, more proper F1 ‘stint’ (1975-1982) was in one of the very strongest Grand Prix driver eras…yet we got nothing on his thoughts on who were the drivers he worried about the most…

    Clark worried about Gurney, Schumacher worried about Hakkinen…who did Mario worry about? There must have been more than one…

    I think it was a lost opportunity and I hope Motor Sport can have a telephone link-up with the legendary American in a future Podcast.

    A guest need not necessarily be in London to be on the ‘show’. Non?

  25. R Tanveer, 16 February 2010 19:05

    I disagree a Raikkonen Podcast would be 90 seconds long.

    Kimi is a different animal and if you supply the vodka, he’s likely to provide a podcast to remember.

    I think Raikkonen hated the uber-PR and corporate-speak nature of the McLaren way and I feel he thought it was pure bullshit. As per his Ferrari years, Kimi didn’t bother to learn Italian (except the word “Ciao”…and then only once he knew it was goodbye time!) and felt completely at unease in that Latin atmospehere where everyone had to be in love with the Scuderia – even if they produced a pig like the KERS F60!

    I know that Raikkonen is more at ease with the Red Bull way and with Finns and even with those at McLaren (as long as their initials aren’t R.D.).

    I think if the Podcast team stuffed Kimi with two bottles full of Vodka and supplied the ice cream and Red Bulls, then we’d all be in for one helluva broadcast!

  26. Tony Geran, 16 February 2010 21:52

    Great podcast guys and it was a shame time was limited as we barely scratched the surface of “Superwop”‘s career. Forgive the non PC use of Mario’s nickname from the ’70′s. Although Rob you obviously scratched a sore point re Michael’s time at McLaren in 1993. Agree a podcast with the three Finnish greats Rosberg Hakkinen and Raikkonen would be great as long as copious amounts of vodka or Johnnie Walker (for Mika) were supplied. Always thought Hakkinen has a sense of mischief about him that was hidden by the McLaren modus operandi. It was interesting listening to Mario’s description of the Ferrari at Monza in 1982 though. Would have to give the vote of best podcast so far to Jody Scheckter’s as he provided insights of such depth that surprised me. How about a podcast of engineers with Gordon Murray and Patrick Head, that would be interesting. Looking forward to hearing more from Brian Redman in the next podcast.

  27. R Tanveer, 16 February 2010 23:46

    Yes. I did enjoy the Scheckter podcast but my favourite remains the one with John Watson.

    The Wattie podcast was controvertial (bashing Kimi, for instance) but it was also highly amusing and entertaining and full of interesting vignettes – perhaps because he’s been in the broadcast entertainment business for years…

  28. joe brown, 17 February 2010 00:57

    If only we could turn back the clock.

    Senna,Prost,Mansell and Schumacher and perhaps James Hunt for good measure.

    Some podcast?

  29. Peter Geran, 17 February 2010 09:24

    Joe Brown,
    You’re my man. Leave Schumacher out, but, I agree with you on the rest.

    I enjoyed the last podcast, but, I feel the Watson and Scheckter podcasts were better.
    Maybe Part 2 will be more interesting.

    I feel Mario went on too long about his son, and even if he was only a fraction slower than Senna in practise / qualifying, the race results didn’t bring anything to the team.

    Can we bring back Niki Lauda again?

    And, good news, my MotorSport March issue, turned up in Australia today. Just in the process of renewing my subscription.

  30. Andy Muggeridge, 17 February 2010 11:56

    Interesting debate about Moss. Although having never met him I’m also not in the Moss fan club. I admire and respect his varied career and the reverence still held for him 40+ years after he finished racing. But having seen alot of film footage and observed him closely on many an occasion at the Goodwood FoS for me he lacks the warmth and humility of a Mario.
    Hamilton is another I just can’t warm to. I much prefer the likes of Jenson, Rubens, Vettel and Webber in the current crop who all again have a warmth, “regular bloke” feel about them.
    I completely agree with an earlier comment, I’d rather have a pint with Derek Bell – one of my all-time favourites. Be great to get Derek on a podcast please !!

  31. Marty Harris, 17 February 2010 15:23

    I think you’d be doing us AND motor racing history a big favour if you brought along Tony Brooks. It would be wonderful to hear ’50s tales from a genuine pilote ancien!

    But regardless, I just have a feeling that whoever you get on is going to be a brilliant listen.

  32. john read, 18 February 2010 02:57

    The point about F1 drivers doing GP’s only may be a factor in the lack of passing in F1. They hardly do any racing! They don’t get mach chance to practice passing do they? 18 or 19 races a year maximum and that’s without DNF’s. And quite often in the races they are circulating on their own.

  33. Steven Roy, 18 February 2010 19:08

    Mario was great value as always. If only we had a few more like him around now.

    Given the driving career he had and his involvement since he stopped driving you could do a show per week with him and take months to cover some of the major aspects of his career.

    I didn’t know that he had turned down the chance to go to McLaren when he left Lotus. I guess if he had done that Ron Dennis would not have made so much effort to get Lauda to come back.

  34. R Tanveer, 18 February 2010 19:52

    How much effort did it take to get Lauda to ‘come back’, though?

    When Lauda Air was having trouble lifting off and landing on the financial runways of the transportation business, what else was he going to do? What other choice did he really have?

    Lauda NEEDED the money. Let’s not be naive, folks!

    It’s not like Niki needed immense coaxing…

    It’s not like Niki missed driving flat out…

    Niki got taken to the cleaners by Prost and was lucky that he was able to secure that ’84 championship by the slowest means possible!


  35. Steven Roy, 18 February 2010 22:38

    I know Lauda needed to come back but if Andretti was at McLaren would Lauda have been offered or taken the other seat and if not where would Lauda have gone?

    Lauda himself has said that Ron chased him for a while before he agreed to comeback.

  36. R Tanveer, 18 February 2010 23:39

    I would have imagined it would have all hinged on what Watson was doing vs Andretti in the first half of the 1981 season.

    If it was Andretti who had that podium/victory run (Spain, France, England), then I imagine Andretti would have told Ron Dennis what he told Colin Champman when Ronnie Peterson was about to join them at Lotus for 1978: That he (Andretti) was going to be contractual Number 1 for 1982 no matter who was in the other seat.

    On the other hand if Watson had the measure of the pair and Andretti was fully fed up with the what the cars were becoming…well, then I don’t know.

    What I do know was that Dennis offered Gilles Villeneuve a sum greater than what Lauda eventually got to join McLaren for 1983…which Gilles might have taken given what happened in the Spring of 1982 (at Imola; Ferrari ‘manager’ Piccini being ‘best man’ at Pironi’s wedding and what not…)

    Piccini + Pironi = Hideous!

  37. Jean-Luc Dal Prà, 19 February 2010 03:49

    Great podcast once again, could sit here and listen to the yesteryear drivers talking about their careers all day.

    Mario seemed quite defensive about Michael, which I guess is understandable.

    I really enjoy the finer details, like his time at Alfa testing at Ricard and how they were on par running the car ‘as it should be’.

  38. Steven Roy, 19 February 2010 15:03

    I have to say the first thing that went through my mind when Andretti mentioned McLaren was the prospect of Mario and Gilles at McLaren.

    I have always believed that if you look at the whole of F1 history one of the biggest possible reputation changers is what would have happened had Gilles survived and gone to McLaren as Lauda’s team mate in 1983. That would have meant there was no McLaren seat for Prost when Renault fired him and GIlles would have started 1984 with a year’s experience of testing and in those circumstances I just can’t see Lauda beating him to the championship. It is easy in those circumstances to see Gilles rack up a few championships and when you look at the options Prost available to him with Gilles at McLaren would have been severely limited. Of course when Lauda retired you have the possibility of Gilles and Prost as team mates then the possibility of Gilles and Senna.

    But Pironi and the Ferrari mangement robbed us of all those possibilities as well as a great driver. All the Ferrari management had to do to calm the situation a little in the aftermath of Imola was to make a statement saying Gilles in number one and Pironi has been told he will behave like a number 2 or get fired but that was not the Ferrari way and instead of cruising to two championships that season they had to wait the best part of 2 decades to win the drivers championship.

  39. R Tanveer, 19 February 2010 15:55

    I have felt a perverted joy only once in all my years of following Grand Prix racing (since 1979, since childhood) and that was when Pironi had his horrific career-ending crash at Hockenheim.

    I had originally wished it were Pironi – and not poor young Paletti – who suffered the consequences on the Montreal start line when the stalled Ferrari was hit from behind by the Osella.

    What happened to Pironi at Hockenheim couldn’t have happened to a more deserving driver, I had thought.

    It was my view only, of course.

    And, as I said, it was the “Perverted Joy” of an immature young boy.

    None of it – the ill feelings of boyhood – was able to bring back my beloved Gilles, though.

  40. Casey, 20 February 2010 02:31

    Thank you for the podcast. Absolutely a gem. Thanks above for the idea of a sequel with Mario, as said, he doesn’t have to be physically in the office. A living treasure is the likes of him and his stories. Regardless, kudos Motorsport! I know of no one else offering such a thing to us fans.

  41. Kenny, 20 February 2010 05:30

    One person, and one person only, is responsible for the death of Gilles Villenueve, and that is Gilles Villenueve. As good as he was, he had moments of complete brain fade which, when combined with his driving style, made his sad and tragic end pretty much inevitable.

    As to Lauda vs. Villenueve compared to Lauda vs. Prost: Prost was a better driver than Villenueve (not faster, but better) and Lauda beat Prost. He likely would have found a way to beat Villenueve.

  42. R Tanveer, 20 February 2010 13:00

    Lauda beat Prost? Over two seasons?

    My friend you are totally deluded.

    Over two seasons Prost absolutely destroyed Lauda. It wasn’t even close.

    I imagine you’re one of those who Googles up standings tables on Wikipedia and noted that Lauda was 0.5 of a point up on the last race of ’84.

    I suggest you buy the 1984 and 1985 seasons and rewatch all the races.

    I also suggest you read Prost’s comments on Villeneuve.

    Pironi and Piccini had a huge bearing on what happened to Villeneuve…but I suppose that’s tougher to Google up on Wiki.

  43. Steven Roy, 20 February 2010 14:07

    Lauda beat Prost by half a point but Villeneuve would have had a season with the team prior to 1984 where Prost only arrived after being fired by Renault after the 1983 season. I am sure a season’s worth of experience of the team and the input to the car set up was worth more than half a point.

    I believe Villeneuve was a better driver than Prost or Senna and that is the point of posing the what if question. What if Villeneuve had won the championship in 1984 then presumably he would have won 85 and 86 as well. Would people still claim that Prost was better when VIlleneuve had three championships by then and Prost had none.

    The next thing you have to ask is how long would Gilles have gone on. No-one loved racing more than him and after a blip in 87 McLaren won the next three championships. Is it possible he could have been a 6 times champion? Who knows? But the possibility exists and then people would have a very different view of his ability. Had he lived and won those titles he would not have been any better as a driver but people would believe he was.

    Bothe Pironi and Ferrari contributed to his death. He stuck rigidly to his contract when he was number two to Scheckter and expected Pironi to do the same. When Pironi passed him after the team told them to hold positions to save the cars he thought it was just for show and Gilles didn’t expect him to steal the win. After the race Ferrari refused to make any statement to confirm that Pironi had broken his agreement. If you think neither of those parties contributed to his death suggest you get a copy of Nigel Roebuck’s Fifth Column in Autosport that covers his phone conversation with Gilles a few days after Imola. It is without a doubt the most memorable piece I have ever read on F1. There is no way you can read that and believe that Gilles was not very seriously emotionally affected by what happened at Imola and really should not have been allowed near a track until the problem had been resolved but Ferrari being Ferrari prefered to have its drivers at war with each other.

  44. R Tanveer, 20 February 2010 15:25

    There are two things that tell you everything:

    1. Dennis was offering Villeneuve a retainer higher than anyone else on the grid; and

    2. Other drivers – including the World Champion drivers of that era (like Scheckter, Lauda, Rosberg and Prost) – thought Gilles was extraordinarily special.

    Villeneuve was the one driver all the others worried about getting into a proper car. They were releived that the Scuderia were producing pieces of shit for 1980 and 1981.

    I don’t know how we ended up on this tangent given that this is ‘The Mario Podcast’.

  45. Kenny, 20 February 2010 18:19

    Disputes between team mates happen all of the time. Villenueve is the only driver I know of who got himself so worked up about it that he wrote himself off. I know that is harsh, but that’s what happened.

    I cannot rate a driver who had first class equipment at his disposal during his entire career in F1 ( and keeping in mind that he had to give way to his team mate in 1979) but won only six races and no WDCs, and who’s approach to the sport resulted in the deaths of three people (including himself) above Alain Prost or Niki Lauda.

    R- you imagine too much. I am not your friend, I am not deluded, and I don’t need to watch any races from 1984 and 1985. I saw them first time around.

    Gilles Villenueve was a wonderful man and a superb driver. But, he was also a very flawed driver at times. and he certainly does not rate among the best of the best.

  46. Steven Roy, 20 February 2010 21:44

    Gilles Villeneuve had first class equipment at his disposal for his entire career? You cannot be serious. That is an utterly ridiculous statement to make. Some of those Ferraris were garbage. There is only one reigning world champion in the entire history of F1 who has failed to qualify for a race. That was Jody Scheckter in Canada in 1980. That is how bad the Ferrari was. Gilles managed to finish that race 5th.

    The Ferraris of 1980 and 1981 were both rubbish because Ferrari still believed that the engine was the most important part of a car and didn’t have decent ground effect. Drivers at Ferrari were routinely fired for criticising their car but when Gilles called his car a shitbox Enzo just laughed because he knew Gilles was doing things with it that should not happen.

    There is only one driver in F1 history who is associated with a number and that is Gilles and number 27. Some people believe that he had it for his whole career but he only had it for 1981 and part of 1982. His performances in 1981 were so incredible that people have him in number 27 imprinted on their mind.

    The 1981 car was very powerful but didn’t do corners. On a straight line it was incredible but rubbish on a bend. Gilles won Monaco in it. That should have been impossible but he did it. He is the only driver I have seen who did things that shouldn’t be possible.

    Jacques Lafitte is not a man given to hyperbole but he said “I know no-one can command miracles but sometime Gilles made you wonder”.

    I assume you mean the Japanese spectators when you say Gilles was responsible for the deaths of three other people. Surely circuit safety is not his responsibility. By that measure Allan McNish’s driving style is responsible for the death of a spectator.

  47. R Tanveer, 20 February 2010 23:08

    Kenny, I don’t know what planet you were on in 1980 and 1981 but anyone who says Villeneuve “had first class equipment at his disposal during his entire career in F1″ surely can’t be taken seriously.

    You speak of ‘WDCs’, well, what did Scheckter do with his “first class” Ferrari in 1980…and what did Pironi (who lead the ‘WDC’ until his crash in 1982) do with his “first class” Ferrari in 1981?

    I’ll tell you:

    Not much, If anything! They were both blown away completely by Villeneuve during those two years.

    Villeneuve, in fact, made a complete mockery of Pironi in 1981.

    The only thing Pironi could do about it was to brown nose his way up Team Manager Piccini’s bum and make the Italian best man at his wedding.

    Et tu, Brute’…

  48. R Tanveer, 21 February 2010 02:07

    Notice how i’ve been derogatorily shortening the team manager’s actual last name…an indication that he was less than fully competent at running the team during Enzo’s fading final years.

    I imagine there’s good reason why his tenure is also derogatorily refered to in certain circles as the “Spaghetti Culture” era of Ferrari.


  49. Kenny, 21 February 2010 03:43

    On the one hand I am being told that the cars were garbage and kept Villenueve from achieving good results, and on the other I am being told how well Villenueve did in them. ??

    I am being told that it was “circuit safety” that caused the crash in Japan, not the fact that Villenueve drove up the back of Peterson for no apparent reason and launched himself into a group of people. I haven’t any idea what Alan McNish has to do with this….

    Anyway…if you folks rate a driver with 6 wins and a history of brain fade over Lauda (25 wins, 3 WDCs) and Prost (51 wins, 4 WDCs), fine. Let’s discuss something else….

  50. Steven Roy, 21 February 2010 05:32

    Allan McNish in his first F3000 race at Donington left the track and landed in a spectator underpass killing a pedestrian. Many drivers over the years have been involved in accidents that resulted in spectator deaths but that has nothing to do with their driving it was because circuit safety was poor. Drivers will always have accidents and it is up to the circuits to make sure that spectators are not injured.

    Lauda did considerably more races than Villeneuve. Villeneuve won 6 races out of 62 and in his first 62 races Lauda won 8 and no titles. Even that is a poor comparison because it takes no account of the equipment they had or the circumstances.

    The 1980 and 1981 cars were garbage that is a matter of record not opinion. The did not acquire nicknames like the truck or the big red Cadillac because they were any good. Jody Scheckter as reigning world champion could not make the 1980 car produce a qualifying time fast enough to get on the back of the grid. The only time in the history of the sport a reigning world champion has failed to qualify for a race.

    In the 1980 season in what is claimed to be top line machinery Scheckter and Villeneuve scored a grand total of 8 points with Gilles scoring 6 of them. Gilles got results out of those cars that were unbelievable, You only have to listen to the opinions of people like Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Keke Rosberg to see how goodVilleneuve was. None of them are given to unnecessary hyperbole but the comments they have made about Villeneuve they have never made about any other driver.

    Lauda is famously quoted as saying “Gilles was a perfect racing driver, with the best talent of all of us. He was the best – and the fastest – driver in the world.”

    That doesn’t sound like Lauda was in any doubt about how good he was. That quote can be found all over the place but I thought it best to post a link to save any debate

    In 1981 in what was supposedly top line machinery Villeneuve and Pironi managed 34 points with VIlleneuve scoring 25 of them. At Monaco that year in a car that was known as being no good in a straight line Villeneuve won the race after qualifying second. Pironi qualified 17th and finished 4th a lap down of the 7 cars that made the distance.

    The following race at Jarama Villeneuve lead with 4 faster cars right behind him for the whole race. His car was quick on the straight but he had to drive a defensive line on the bendy bits. This was in the days before the ridiculous one move rule. One mistake and he would probably been lucky to score a point but he drove flawlessly for the whole race.

    There is a reason why to this day associate Gilles and 27. It is because he did things with those cars that were way beyond what anyone else ccould have done.

  51. Kenny, 21 February 2010 10:18

    OK Steve and R, you’ve convinced me. I had it all wrong. The man was out of this world good. The number 27 should be retired from all of motor racing. You’ve made it clear to me that any problems that he (and those around him) had were caused by Ferrari and/or Didier Pironi and/or the organizers in Japan and/or some dark conspiracy that has yet to be uncovered but surely existed. Thank you both for getting me straightened out on this. I feel like a new man….

  52. R Tanveer, 21 February 2010 14:17

    Kenny, It’s hard to completely compare Villeneuve to Lauda and Prost given that the Canadian drove only in only a fraction over 4 seasons…and 2 of those seasons were in Ferraris that were inferior to the Williamses, Brabhams, Renaults, even Ligiers.

    Lauda and Prost, on the other hand, had the benefit of 11, 12, 13 seasons.

    If you’re looking only at pure results, of course you have to rate Prost higher…but even *with* the results, most people who saw their careers don’t necessessarily put Lauda ahead of Villeneuve.

    Moss and Peterson, for instance, never won “WDCs”, yet they are rated higher than a number of “WDCs” in the history of F1.

    Prost had the greatest in-team competition of any driver in Grand Prix history and came out largely well against them (Senna, Lauda, Mansell, Rosberg, D Hill, Arnoux, Watson, Alesi).

    On that basis alone I personally have to rater Prost higher than Villeneuve and Lauda.

    Prost, for me, is co-equal Number 1 with Senna ALL TIME.

  53. R Tanveer, 21 February 2010 14:34

    Senna, remember, also only won 6 Grand Prix races and no “WDCs” after 67 races/4 seasons.

    Results are one thing. Talent is another.

  54. Steven Roy, 21 February 2010 16:01

    Your view of Villeneuve has to change if you believed he had top class equipment for his whole career yet for two of the four full seasons he competed in his team mates one of who was the reigning world champion managed a total of 11 points over 30 odd races. That clearly shows the cars were rubbish. Regardless what Villeneuve did or what anyone said about him those facts alone show that for half his F1 career his equipment was garbage. The only other conclusion that is possible from the facts is that Scheckter and Pironi were garbage and no-one believes that.

  55. R Tanveer, 21 February 2010 22:33

    It’s seems only Kenny thinks Villeneuve had ‘first class equipment his entire F1 career’.

    He must be living in an alternate universe.


    I just dug up an old Motor Sport Magazine from my library…

    …it’s the “75th Anniversary Issue”.

    I’m looking at it in my hands right now!

    Guess who is on the cover?

    Gilles Villeneuve in the Ferrari 312T3!

    Now why would Motor Sport Magazine do that!??!

  56. Kenny, 23 February 2010 09:02

    Steve- I should have said a first rate team, rather than first rate equipment. At any rate, the cars were rubbish by Ferrari standards, which is a bit different from just plain rubbish. Scheckter and Villenueve scored well in cars that were right, and less well in cars that were not so right. Situation normal. If they had scored points in an ATS or an Osella….those cars were rubbish.

    R- you’ve made my point. “Villenueve only raced for a fraction over 4 years”. Why was that? Beacuse he retired? Because he was fired? No, it was because he ran up the back of Jochen Mass an launched himself into oblivion. Was that a one off, could happen to anyone thing? No. In 1977 he ran up the back of Ronnie Peterson and launched himself into a group of spectators (who, as Steve points out, would not have been killed and injured if they hadn’t been there…just as it would be dark if the sun hadn’t risen this morning). Were those crashes the result of mechnical failure. No. Were they caused by Ronnie Peterson, Jochen Mass, Didier Pironi, or the Scuderia? No. Did Lee Harvey Oswald do it? I guess that leaves Gilles…

    He was both superb and flawed. Sadly, the flawed part turned out to be the bottom line.

    All IMHO.

  57. Mario Carneiro Neto, 24 February 2010 02:37

    I’ve always thought this was pretty striking:

    Enzo Ferrari talks about Gilles Villeneuve.

  58. Steven Roy, 24 February 2010 04:04

    The Ferraris of that period were rubbish by any standard. The two drivers who finsihed first and second in the 1979 world championship scored a total of 8 points in 1980 and finished behind Arrows and Fittipaldi in the constructors championship.

    Jochen Mass’s version of the accident that killed Villeneuve is that he expected Gilles to pass him on one side and move to give him more room on that side just as Gilles moved to the other side. In effect he went for a gap that was closed as he went for it. No fault on Mass and no fault on Gilles.

    Jim Clark died in an accident as did Jochen Rindt as did Ronnie Peterson etc. It happens. You can’t say that because a driver made contact with another car twice it was somehow his fault. I seem to remember a spectator dying as the result of his son making contact with the back of another car but no blame can be attached to him for that.

    You may view Gilles as flawed but he was a genius behind the wheel and he did things no-one else could do. If as you suggest that he was somehow to blame for the Peterson accident and his own fatal accident do you not find it odd that none of his rivals ever crticised him for it. Racing drivers are not known for holding back in these situations.

    Keke Rosberg is a man known for speaking his mind and he has made comments to the effect that he hated to hear Gilles and Senna being compared because while Gilles may have put himslef at risk he never put anyone else at risk. No doubt you will bring up the Peterson accident but I have never seen that incident but I find it hard to believe that he somehow chose to launch his car at another for no reason. Given the treatment Hunt and co dished out to Patrese it seems reasonable that if there was anything suspect in Gilles’ behaviour that none of them once complained about him.

  59. Kenny, 24 February 2010 05:17

    Throughout this discussion both of you have ignored many of the things I’ve said that do not jive with your views on the matter. Now you are putting words in my mouth and expressing opinions about events that you have not seen. R has even resorted to name calling, something I never expected to see here.

    Steven, I would be happy to continiue this discussion with you- I am always glad to hear what a fellow enthusiast has to say. I would ask that you re read the thread, paying close attention to what I have said- for example, I have not said or implied that Villenueve chose to launch his car at another car- then we can carry on. Or not. Up to you.

  60. Kenny, 1 March 2010 14:56

    That’s what I figured…..

  61. R Tanveer, 2 March 2010 13:45

    Kenny, how do you see the coming season?

    We have four, perhaps even more, cars capable of winning and about 9 or 10 drivers who are proven race winners.

    How do you see things shaping up.

    I’ll be pulling for Vettel.

  62. kenny, 3 March 2010 18:03

    I’m backing Red Bull and Webber, and hoping that Jenson does well.

    It’s a tough call…I think that Mercedes have been sandbagging a bit, and all of the other usual suspects are looking good, with Renault and Sauber just behind. Williams are a mystery to me right now…don’t know what to think about them.

    I always get my predictions wrong, so…………….

  63. R Tanveer, 3 March 2010 21:41

    Here is my prediction:

    1. Vettel to beat Hamilton for the title.

    2. Massa to prove faster than Alonso.

    3. Schumacher to finish about 9th in the championship after retiring before the season ends.

    4. Hulkenberg to be seen as one of the two great Germans – alongside Vettel – for the future.

  64. r. pebworth, 17 March 2010 19:51

    a poor start to the season with a very processional race thought the new regs were
    designed to make the racing more exciting and encourage overtaking when in fact drivers will slow down to conserve engines etc
    and the whole race will be tactics by the teams lets go back to the 70s with big slicks back and front and no driver aids that would sort out the men from the boys

  65. r. pebworth, 17 March 2010 20:06

    you have to respect mario and nigel how many other drivers have raced at the top level both in F1 and indy racing with any level of success not many they were both worthy F1 world champions

  66. Paul Cherrington, 26 March 2010 18:43

    To Michael Spitale I say – I’ve always a huge Mario fan, and was lucky enough to see him race in both F1 and Indycars – one of racings rare, genuine Superstars. No question. But Michael, please, when you ask “Mario did not beat anyone good for the title in ‘78? “….even Mario, in his heart, knows he won that title PURELY because of the sheer class & professionalism of Ronnie, his team-mate, who simply couldn’t bring himself to break his contract – but so often shadowed him to the line, sometimes mere feet behind his gearbox.

  67. António Posser, 30 April 2010 21:37

    Most versatile?
    Jacky Ickx for sure.
    Motorbikes, Rally, F2, F1, Endurance, Touring cars, Can-Am.

  68. Simon O'Donovan, 13 December 2010 01:36

    R Tanveers opinion is highly respected.

    I had a bet with a guy who believed MS would win the championship & I took him up on it. I don’t bet, but it appeared quite simple in my head. I am now surprised he has not been able compete at the level….Three years is a nice rest, so I also felt it had much to do with the analogy Mercedes have spoken of on tyres. That may sound rubbish, but remember who monopolised the testing of BRIDGESTONE tyres during the days of his success.

    Vettel: I thought he was brilliant in adversity, but could never agree Felipe would lead Ferrari once Fernando started to drive there (My driver of the year).

    Hulk did well, but Rubens is one of the best drivers in F1 (who cares how old).

Similar content


The marvel of Hesketh Racing


Andrew Frankel recounts the unlikely story of Hesketh Racing and James Hunt’s win in only its car’s third race


A history of Ferrari’s sporting directors


With the resignation of Stefano Domenicali from Ferrari, Paul Fearnley looks back at the Scuderia’s past team bosses


Ayrton Senna: the McLaren years


Simon Arron shares Ron Dennis’s thoughts on his time working with Ayrton Senna



Ed Foster

Read Ed's profile and more …