Ferrari has revealed plans to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of one of its most revered drivers, Gilles Villeneuve, next month with a special event at its Fiorano test track.
The Canadian legend’s son Jacques, the 1997 world champion, will drive the 312T4 with which Gilles and team-mate Jody Scheckter contested the 1979 drivers’ title, the crown going to the latter by four points as Ferrari also won the constructors’ championship.
The elder Villeneuve won three grands prix in that particular car – South Africa, Long Beach and Watkins Glen – and it was also the challenger he was driving when he was involved in one of the most thrilling F1 racing sequences of all time at that year’s French GP, when he and Rene Arnoux engaged in a ferocious wheel-banging duel in the closing laps of the race.
F1 lost one of its most exciting ever stars when Villeneuve was killed in qualifying for the Belgian GP at Zolder three years later, but his memory has lived on through future generations at Ferrari. The team’s statement announcing the Fiorano event summed up his legacy: “His memory is still vivid and alive in the minds of many at Maranello; his talent, his speed, his bravery which bordered on recklessness, all go to make his name still hugely popular with our fans, even among younger ones who have only been able to see him on replays of his races or read about him in stories written by journalists.”
Jacques has previously driven one of his father’s Ferraris at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2004, but driving a red car at the Italian marque’s famous test track is sure to be a particularly poignant occasion for both team and son when the event takes place on Tuesday 8 May.