Monsieur Villeneuve, About That Rear Tire…

Illustration for article titled Monsieur Villeneuve, About That Rear Tire…

At the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix, Ferrari hotshot Gilles Villeneuve drove what must simultaneously be the most hilarious and most heroic lap of Formula One history. It all began with a rear tire puncture.


The elder Villeneuve’s particular brand of Québécois madness needs no introduction, but lap 51 of the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix is a class act of its own.

After leading most of the race and setting fastest lap, the left rear tire of his Ferrari 312T4 blew up on the beginning of the lap, causing him to spin out. A lesser driver — make that everyone in Formula One — would at this point have climbed out of the car and shuffled back to the pits, but not Villeneuve.


Definitely not Villeneuve. What he did instead was fire up the Ferrari, get back on the tarmac in a tractor-happy spray of gravel, and proceed to create the greatest act of insane performace art in racing history. Yes, there is video, in which there are sparks:

Quite a case of A for effort, that.

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Manly? Maybe.

Unsportsmanlike? Absolutely.

The real heroes are the drivers that don't feel the need to screw it up for everyone else when they are faced with the reality that there is no way they're finishing the race.