Joseph Gilles Henri Villeneuve was an outstanding Formula One driver from Canada. Starting off on snowmobiles, Gilles Villeneuve raced in Formula Atlantic and then F1. As a Formula One driver, Gilles Villeneuve truly impressed the crowds and was well known for his excellent skills on the track. A true risk-taker, Villeneuve was known by his compatriots for his sensitive, friendly personality.
Gilles Villeneuve was born on 18 January 1950 in Quebec, Canada. Right from a young age he expressed an avid interest in motor vehicles. When he turned 16 years old and received his driver’s license, it was like a dream come true. By 1976 he was racing with Ecurie Canada and taking the Formula Atlantic championship by storm. He was quickly noticed by McLaren and asked to join the team.
Gilles Villeneuve debuted as an F1 driver in 1977 at Silverstone race track. He attracted much attention as an up and coming talent. In August 1977 Ferrari met with Villeneuve and soon after he began racing for the team. His first major F1 victory occurred in 1979 in Canada. Some reason that he would have done better if his vehicle could have matched the great Lotuses of the time. Others said that his wins weren’t many due to his all-or-nothing driving method. One of F1 driver Villeneuve’s most notable races was the 1979 French Grand Prix held at Dijon track. Renault driver Rene Arnoux looked set to come in second following teammate Jean-Pierre Jabouille. However, Gilles Villeneuve wasn’t about to let the faster Renault beat him. In a tense duel with much sliding and contact, Villeneuve managed to end the race just ahead of Arnoux for second place.
Sadly, on 8 May 1982, Villeneuve died as the result of an accident whilst taking part in the final qualifying session of the Belgian Grand Prix. There are a number of memorials to the exceptional driver, including the naming of the Grand Prix track in Canada after him. With his persistant attitude, excellent car control and strong driving style, Gilles Villeneuve will go into Formula One history as a legend.