It was thirty years ago this week that Gilles Villeneuve, a Québécois snowmobile racer turned Formula One’s greatest maverick, lost his life at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Given the demographics of the internet, this means that the vast majority of us only know him from short clips. But it doesn’t take more than three minutes of footage to see how brave he was in a capricious turbo Ferrari, how incredible his sense of balance.
This video is from the 1981 Canadian Grand Prix, the last time Villeneuve raced on the Montréal circuit which now bears his name. Driving the incredibly unstable Ferrari 126C in the rain, Villeneuve had his front wing break off and obscure most of his vision. Sane people, at this point, would pit. Villeneuve, of course, didn’t. He kept on driving for several laps until the wing sheared off. The Ferrari’s aerodynamics were terrible enough that it remained driveable. Villeneuve finished third. What can you say? Salut Gilles.