Thank you for your features commemorating the 30th anniversary of the passing of Gilles Villeneuve. I have only ever attended one Grand Prix, the 1977 British race, so I had the privilege of observing Gilles’ Grand Prix debut — albeit the only GP where he didn’t drive a Ferrari — and I remember being impressed by his ability to stay ahead of his team-mate Jochen Mass who was driving the then new McLaren M26 while Gilles himself was piloting the older M23.
With his recruitment by Ferrari I kept a keen interest in his progression, aided by the articles of Mr Roebuck, DSJ, Peter Windsor and others.
I do therefore have to take issue with the remarks of my namesake Alistair Caldwell in that issue. To call Gilles’ move to Ferrari ‘a disaster’ and a waste of a huge talent seems to me not to understand the legacy that Gilles Villeneuve leaves behind and how that legacy is entwined in the legend that is the Scuderia. If Gilles did indeed add to the glorious history of Ferrari, then it is also true that Ferrari is integral to the veneration of the Fl career of the boy from Berthierville.
It seems to me disingenuous for Alistair to suggest that Gilles would have won a world championship with McLaren had he stayed there. When exactly would he have won it? In the whole of Gilles’ career with Ferrari — where he won a paltry six Grands Prix — the entire McLaren team won two! Alistair might say that he would have won in 1982, but, had he lived, he would, quite probably, have won it anyway driving the 126C2.
The magic of Villeneuve, for me at least, is that he did what he did while driving for the Prancing Horse.
Bryan Caldwell, Vancouver, BC, Canada