Gilles Villeneuve had truly fabulous car control, perhaps the best of his generation of Grand Prix drivers. Here he is in his Ferrari 312T4 really, really trying at that terrible Zolder circuit during the 1979 Belgian Grand Prix. In a way, this was a typical Villeneuve race. Starting from the third row, he smacked into the rear of Clay Regazzoni’s Williams on the second lap, necessitating a stop for a new nose. This left him dead last and almost an entire lap down. Then came the charge – right through the field. With two laps to go Villeneuve was all the way back to an astounding third place, but ran out of fuel on the final lap to finish seventh and out of the points. It was a telling result, as Scheckter would ultimately beat Villeneuve for the Championship by those four third place points.
Gilles Villeneuve was one of the all-time favorites of Enzo Ferrari who greatly admired his total commitment to winning. He has always remained at the apex of Ferrari’s racing lore and history.
Zolder will always have great significance to Villeneuve fans for it was in practice for this same race three years later, when Villeneuve, again trying really, really hard on his last set of qualifiers, would lose his life.
Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection