GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

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Mikep99
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GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby Mikep99 »

Various driver quotes and excerpts from book's.
Well worth a read if you liked Gilles.


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Nigel Roebuck's wonderful Grand Prix Greats (1986), Patrick Stephens Ltd, Wellingborough

Qualifying in the rain at the 1979 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York

A friend of mine in America sent me a cassette a while ago. On it is the sound of a lone racing car, unmistakably a Ferrari flat-12, and its clearly audible all the way round the lap. There is a lot of wheelspin - you can hear the revs abruptly scream out of every turn - and then the volume builds until the car swishes by in a welter of spray. He taped it during the first afternoon of practice at Watkins Glen in 1979, when conditions were as bad as I have ever seen at a race circuit. In places the track was flooded, and only eight drivers ventured out. One of those was Scheckter, who was fastest behind team mate Villeneuve. Eleven seconds behind ...The tape is of course Gilles, and it revived memories of a day when we forgot the wintry rain until he came in, the Ferrari breathless and steaming. In the pits the other drivers, aghast, had giggled nervously every time he skittered by at 160 mph. "Why do we bother? He's different from the rest of us," Jacques Laffite said. "On another level ..."
"I scared myself rigid that day", Jody remembered. "I thought I had to be quickest. Then I saw Gilles's time and - I still don't really understand how it was possible. Eleven seconds !" "Motor racing was a romantic thing for him, you see." Scheckter went on. "We were close friends, doing the same job for the same team, but we had completely opposite attitudes to it. My preoccupation was keeping myself alive, but Gilles had to be the fastest on every lap - even in testing. He was the fastest racing driver the world has ever seen. If he could come back and live his life again, I think he would do exactly the same - and with the same love."

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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?"

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from "Villeneuve: The Life of a Legendary
Racing Driver", Gerald Donaldson (1989),
Motor Racing Publications, Croydon, UK


1980 Italian Grand Prix:
....on the fifth lap ....Gilles, travelling at an estimated 180 mph, flew off at Tosa and pitched into the cement wall at unabated speed. The enormous impact destroyed the left side of the Ferrari,scattering wreckage high into the air.The front wheel struck Gilles a heavy blow on the helmet - but the accident was not yet over. The momentum shot the remains of the car back across the grass and onto the circuit in front of the oncoming traffic,where it then spun to a smoking halt. Cars took frantic evasive action and all came through unscathed except Giacomelli's Alfa, which ran over a piece of Ferrari suspension and stopped with a punctured tyre. Gilles sat motionless for several agonising moments before he raised his arms and began waving them. Finally, after about thirty seconds, the very worried Tosa crowd gave a mighty cheer of approval as Gilles unstrapped his harness, climbed out and trotted away, though somewhat unsteadily. He was taken to the track clinic and examined, then released to go and lie down in his camper. He complained of being sore all over and had a sever headache and the next day he went to hospital in Bologna for a brain scan. No damage was discovered, though he wasn't allowed to fly his helecopter for twenty-four hours, and within a few days he was completely recovered.An exploding right rear tyre had caused the accident and Gilles was his usual phlegmatic self in recalling what ollowed. "I knew what had happened even before the car had begun to spin., because I heard the thumping of the flat tyre. I knew where I was, how close the wall was and everything, and I thought, `This one is going to hurt.' Everything went black when I hit the wall and I could not see for maybe thirty seconds. I could hear the cars going by and I thought I was thrown in the middle of them. I was afraid someone would hit me and thats why I raised my arms, so they could see me."

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Gilles quote:

"I don't have any fear of a crash. No fear of that. Of course, on a fifth gear corner with a fence outside, I don't want to crash. I'm not crazy. But
if its near the end of practice, and your trying for pole position maybe, I guess you can squeeze the fear ..."

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Jacques Laffite quote:

"I know that no human being can do a miracle. Nobody commands magical properties, but Gilles made you wonder. He was that quick."

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Frank Williams quote:

"I was very proud of Alan that day. We had the best car at the time, without a doubt, and the only driver on the track we feared was that little French Canadian ..."

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Niki Lauda quote:

"Gilles was the perfect racing driver who knew where to take which advantage where ..." "Villeneuve had the best talent of all of us. Whatever car that you put him in he would have been quick."

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Didier Pironi quote:

"When I joined Ferrari the whole team was so devoted to Gilles. I mean he was not just the top driver, he was much more than that. He had a small family there. ... he made me fit right in and I felt at home right away
overnight and Gilles made no distinctions either ...I was expecting to be put in my place, I was not number one. I was number two. He treated me like an equal all the way."

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Jackie Stewart quote:

"Oh, I think he's superb, and I believe he'll get better and better. At the moment he still makes mistakes, misses the odd apex, gets up on a curb, uses a little too much road on the way out sometimes, but i'm being hypercritical here. His level of natural talent is phenomenal - there's real genius in his car control."

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Gilles quote:

"I love motor racing. To me it's a sport, not a technical exercise. My deal Formula One car would be something like a McLaren M23 with a big normally aspirated engine, 800 hp, 21 inch rear tyres. A lot of people say we
should have narrower tires, but I don't agree because you need big tyres to slow you down when you spin. And you need a lot of horsepower to unstick big tyres, to make the cars slide. That would be a bloody fantastic spectacle, I can tell you. We would take corners one gear lower than we do now, and get the cars sideways. You know, people still rave about Ronnie Peterson in a Lotus 72, and I understand that. I agree with them.
That's the kind of entertainment I want to give the crowds. Smoke the tyres ! Yeah ! I [care about the fans], because I used to be one of them ! I believe the crowd is really losing out at the moment, and that's
bad."

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Walter Wolf quote:

"[Gilles] is a super, super, super talented driver with the ability which happen very seldom. A man gets so much ability, so much feeling for a car".

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Enzo Ferrari Quote:

" ...and when they presented me with this tiny Canadian, this miniscule bundle of nerves, I instantly recognized in him the physique of the great Nuvolari and I said to myself, `let's give him a try."

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Rene Arnoux Quote:

"It was terrible when Gilles died. I cried that day and the next one, too, even though I had to race ...and I remember the feeling that we were all starting equal, from now on. Villeneuve was gone. We all knew he had a
talent beyond our reach."

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Alain Prost Quote:

" ...with me and my competitors it's battle for pole position as that's important but with Gilles you will see a battle for everything ...[including] 10th place ..."
"He made the fastest start of anybody here. I thought he must know a trick ...all season he had quicker starts, no one could compare"

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Juan Manuel Fangio Quote:

"He will remain as a member of the family of the truly great drivers in auto racing history. Mr Enzo Ferrari, who is an authority on these matters, has compared Villeneuve to Tazio Nuvolari. Nuvolari in my younger days was the great idol. All drivers wanted to equal the great Nuvolari. They struggled to match but could only imitate him. To be compared to Nuvolari is to receive the highest praise. Villeneuve did not race to finish, he did not race for points. He raced to win. Although small in stature he was a giant."

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Keke Rosberg Quote:

"To Gilles, racing truly was a sport, which is why he would never chop you. Something like that he'd look on with contempt. You didn't have to be a good driver to do that, let alone a great one. Anyone could do that.
Gilles was the hardest bar steward I ever raced against, but completely fair. If you'd beaten him to a corner, he accepted it and gave you room. Then he'd be right back at you at the next one! Sure, he took unbelievable risks - but only with himself - and that's why I get pissed off now when people compare Senna with him. Gilles was a giant of a driver, yes, but he was also a great man."

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Gilles Quote:
On Snowmobiling

"Every winter you would reckon on three or four big spills - and I'm talking bout being thrown onto the ice at 100 mph. Those things used to slide a lot, which taught me a great deal about control. And the visibility was terrible! Unless you were leading, you could see nothing, with all the snow blowing about. Good for the reactions - and it stopped me having any worries about racing in the rain !"

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Gilles Villeneuve: If someone said to me that you can have three wishes, my first would have been to get into racing, my second to be in Formula 1, my third to drive for Ferrari.
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texasmr2
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby texasmr2 »

EXCELLENT post!!! :D
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Forti_Corse
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby Forti_Corse »

agreed, gilles is the most intriguing character ever to grace motorsport, everyway he raced was unorthodox and life threatening but he pulled it off, he showed other drivers that you didnt have to be technical just go in there and not give in to your nerves, ofcourse his rebelious style of driving became his downfall in 1982, it will also highlight him from the thousands of drivers who have ever raced in formula one.

although Michael(Schumacher) has done an awfull lot for ferrari he still hasnt completed the most vital task, impressing Enzo Ferrari.
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby McLaren Fan »

Gilles Villeneuve was a truly brilliant driver. Had he lived, dozens of victories and a few titles would have been his. Some of his comments and deeds on the track remind me a little of Ayrton Senna; Gilles Villeneuve is the only driver who's ever done that for me.
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Ayrton Senna: WDC 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
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texasmr2
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby texasmr2 »

Forti_Corse wrote:Although Michael (Schumacher) has done an awfull lot for ferrari he still hasnt completed the most vital task, impressing Enzo Ferrari.

Well that was an impossible task since Enzo died in 1988! :?
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darwin dali
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby darwin dali »

texasmr2 wrote:
Forti_Corse wrote:Although Michael (Schumacher) has done an awfull lot for ferrari he still hasnt completed the most vital task, impressing Enzo Ferrari.

Well that was an impossible task since Enzo died in 1988! :?


Right!
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby Forti_Corse »

yes i understand that lol, but my statement still remains.....you know what i mean
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texasmr2
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby texasmr2 »

Forti_Corse wrote:yes i understand that lol, but my statement still remains.....you know what i mean

Yah we know what you mean. :wink:
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby 7UpJordan »

I was born 3 years after Gilles' death, so I was unlucky not to see his amazing talent, the only thing I can even think of comparing it to is probably Senna.
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Mikep99
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby Mikep99 »

7UpJordan wrote:I was born 3 years after Gilles' death, so I was unlucky not to see his amazing talent, the only thing I can even think of comparing it to is probably Senna.


I started following F1 seriously when Gilles was racing.
He left a very big impression on me which no one has come close to matching in my opinion. :cry:
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Gilles Villeneuve: If someone said to me that you can have three wishes, my first would have been to get into racing, my second to be in Formula 1, my third to drive for Ferrari.
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby EwanM »

What about Jimmy Clark :P
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texasmr2
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby texasmr2 »

EwmanM wrote:What about Jimmy Clark :P

This thread's not about Jimmy so that should explain the lack of his mention :wink: .
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby 7UpJordan »

texasmr2 wrote:
EwmanM wrote:What about Jimmy Clark :P

This thread's not about Jimmy so that should explain the lack of his mention :wink: .

Yeah, I find it quite sad there's not been much mentioning of Jim Clark - a true British hero - as it was the 40th Anniversary of his death on Monday, yet earlier in the year when it was the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, it was literraly shoved in your face on the BBC Sport website - no disrespect to everyone associated with a tragic disaster.

Last year they did do a feature on Gilles on the 25th Anniversary of his death which was quite a good read.
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texasmr2
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby texasmr2 »

7UpJordan wrote:Last year they did do a feature on Gilles on the 25th Anniversary of his death which was quite a good read.

Dang I missed it but back to the question as too why Jimmy has not been mentioned IN this thread is because we already have a thread devoted to Jimmy.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3182
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Re: GILLES VILLENEUVE - The Greatest

Postby EwanM »

texasmr2 wrote:
EwmanM wrote:What about Jimmy Clark :P

This thread's not about Jimmy so that should explain the lack of his mention :wink: .


True, Giles was a great driver. End of.
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