Families of Villeneuve and Pironi to tell their story of tragic 1982 season


New feature documentary will tell the story of Ferrari team-mates Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi, and the 'betrayal' of the 1982 season

Pironi sprays champagne at 1982 San Marino Grand Prix

'Betrayal' at the 1982 San Marino GP will be the focus of new documentary

Hoch Zwei/Corbis via Getty Images

The families of Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi are working together on a new documentary into the Ferrari team-mates’ controversial, tragic 1982 season.

Due for release next year, forty years after Villeneuve was killed at Zolder, the Villeneuve & Pironi production is billed as being the first to tell the story with the drivers’ partners and children.

Formula 1 drivers will also contribute to the documentary into the two team-mates; their bitter divide after the ‘betrayal’ of Imola, where Pironi overtook Villeneuve in the final laps to win — against team orders; and the death of Villeneuve at the following race.

Gilles’ wife Joann and their children, F1 champion Jacques, and sister Melanie will contribute, as will Didier’s partner, Catherine Goux and their children Gilles and Didier, named after the team-mates.

From the archive

“This period in time and these events were traumatic for our family and, after more than 40 years, still remain very emotional,” said Joann Villeneuve. “Having been a privileged witness to these events, it is important that this story be told with respect.”

The atmosphere at Zolder in 1982 was described as “poisonous” after the controversy of the previous San Marino Grand Prix. The Ferrari drivers had been instructed to slow and then hold in order to preserve fuel and their 1-2 positions, but second-placed Pironi made a decisive move on the final lap to secure the win.

Villeneuve stepped from the car furious and was still raging two weeks later in Belgium. In the closing minutes of the final qualifying session and in heavy traffic, his Ferrari clipped the rear of Jochen Mass’s March and launched into the air. One of grand prix racing’s most charismatic, naturally gifted drivers was lost to the world.

The Sky Studios and Noah Media Group feature film is already in production and scheduled for release towards the end of next year. Former Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber is a producer and it is being directed by Torquil Jones, who was behind the acclaimed Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager documentary.

Catherine Goux said that her family was “delighted” to work with the production team. “We are looking forward to the world learning more about the two incredible men that were Gilles and Didier, but also for a new generation to discover this unique and inspiring story that reaches beyond the sport itself,” she added.

Co-producer, John McKenna, who worked on the poignant Finding Jack Charlton documentary, said: “We are extremely privileged and grateful to both the Villeneuve and Pironi families for putting their trust in Noah Media Group to tell this truly remarkable story of two incredible men. This will be a film with huge emotion and drama at its heart “