Why You Need To Worship Gilles Villeneuve

Illustration for article titled Why You Need To Worship Gilles Villeneuve

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Forbes, Hemmings, and The Wall Street Journal.

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When Customer Service Fails: A Car AccidentForbes

Illustration for article titled Why You Need To Worship Gilles Villeneuve
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There's really nothing worse than being in the car accident... Other than the costly aftermath.

Ever had your iPad break? Call Apple AAPL -0.73%. They’ll fix it. They’ll tell you they’re very sorry. They’ll send a new one before they receive yours. Macbook catch fire? Well, they’ll give you a call and do everything they can to help deal with even a bizarre manufacturing defect. You’d imagine, or at least I would, that the result of a much larger purchase – say one that includes you buying a vehicle that could cause harm – would result in amazing care and concern. Well, you might be wrong.

Racing Heroes: Gilles VilleneuveHemmings

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Gilles Villeneuve never really lived up to his full potential. And that's a shame, he was one of the most exciting racing drivers of all time.

In the history of Formula 1, few drivers are quite as polarizing as Canadian star Gilles Villeneuve. Nikki Lauda reportedly called him, “the craziest devil I ever came across in Formula 1,” and BBC F1 analyst Eddie Jordan is on record as saying that Villeneuve was “a hooligan who never would have won a championship,” punctuating this with, “He drove like an idiot.” On the other hand, former Ferrari teammate Jody Scheckter called him, “the fastest driver the world has ever seen,” while Alain Prost referred to Villeneuve as, “the last great driver – the rest of us are a bunch of good professionals.”

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2013 SRT Viper: A Speed Demon With Too Much EngineThe Wall Street Journal

Illustration for article titled Why You Need To Worship Gilles Villeneuve
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We don't normally pimp other reviews here, but Dan Neil has a way with words like few others.

RUMORS OF THE new Viper's livability are wildly exaggerated. While the fifth generation of Chrysler Group's V10-powered, front-engine roadster/coupe is much improved, rest assured America's supercar remains a huge pain in the seat heaters. It's still a devil's deal of design trade-offs—the agricultural gearshift linkage, side exhaust pipes that scald your leg when you step out, acute cabin claustrophobia, lousy outward views—all in the service of this thing, this joyous, hurts-so-good masochism of the Viper experience, which is strangely like a question-your-sanity experience.

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DISCUSSION

To underline Gilles Villeneuve's skill in a poor-handling racecar, the following was written by F1 Journalist Alan Roebuck on a visit to Dijon circuit in France, where Villeneuve and Arnoux had previously had their titanic battle. It's one of the best descriptions of Villeneuve's talents I've read.

"1981 French Grand Prix
Qualifying at Dijon:


During practice at Dijon in 1981, Gilles crashed
at the Courbe de Pouas, an undulating, flat-in-
fourth right hander, with no run-off worth
mentioning. During the lunch break I found him
dabbing a cut on his jaw: "Bloody catch pole
cracked my helmet and broke the visor ..."

"You overdid it ?" I asked. "Just ran out of
road?" "No, no," he grinned. "I ran out of lock;
"The car is really bad through there - an
adventure every time. Go and have a look this
afternoon and you'll
see what I mean." I did. I watched the Cosworth-
engined Williams and Brabhams droning through on
their rails, and waited.

At its clipping point, at the top of a rise, the
Ferrari was already sideways, its driver winding
on opposite lock. As it came past me, plunging
downhill now, the tail stayed out of line, further
and further, and still Gilles had his foot hard
down. As he reached the bottom of the dip, I knew
the position was hopeless, for now it was
virtually broadside, full lock on,
Villeneuve's head pointing up the road, out of the
side of the cockpit.

Somehow, though, the Ferrari did not spin, finally
snapping back into line as it grazed the catch
fencing, then rocketing away up the hill. For more
than a hundred yards, I swear it, the car was
sideways at 130 mph. "That's genius," said David
Hobbs, watching with me. "Are you seriously
telling me he's won two Grand Prix in that?"