In my 40 years of reading Motor Sport magazine I do not recall reading any article or feature four times back to back, then re-reading it continuously in the days following as I have with the feature on Villeneuve, surely your finest work.
I found the comments of drivers of his era particularly compelling. All of us who love Fl know that Villeneuve was a gifted, spectacular driver with a ‘never give up’ attitude: his drives in Dijon ’79, Monaco and Spain in ’81, to name a few, reflect this.
After first reading John Watson’s comments I thought they were a tad harsh, but on reflection his thoughtful, considered opinions seem completely correct. We have all read stories of passengers vowing never to get into a car with Villeneuve again, with his blatant disregard for any sort of rules putting the lives of others at risk, while flying helicopters at night without the correct qualifications and with little or no fuel is bad planning at best, or dangerous stupidity at worst.
We all love the wheel-banging affair with Arnoux at Dijon, and his attempts to bring back the disintegrating T4 to the pits at Zandvoort in ’79, but Watson is right. It was dangerous behaviour, with complete disregard for the other drivers. That behaviour would not be tolerated these days; he would have been black-flagged. A genius behind the wheel, yes, but a flawed one.
James Adams, Sydney, Australia