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Ferrari pays tributes to Gilles

NEWS STORY
08/05/2012

Earlier, Jacques Villeneuve took to the Fiorano test track in a 1979 Ferrari 312 T4 as the Italian manufacturer paid tribute to his father, Gilles, who died thirty years ago today.

The Canadian took to the track at shortly after 10.30, as the team remembered a favourite son who raced for it from 1977 until he died tragically during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on 8 May 1982.

On the thirtieth anniversary of that dreadful day, Jacques took to the track at the wheel of the same car with which his father won three races in 1979 and that his team-mate Jody Scheckter drove to take the drivers' title.

Taking part in the event were Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, the Vice President Piero Ferrari, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, the Managing Director, Amadeo Felisa and the engineer, Mauro Forghieri, who was Technical Director in Gilles' day.

Many fans were drawn to Maranello by the ever present memory of the legendary driver and bringing the event to life, they were joined by Villeneuve's mechanics, his widow Joann and their daughter Melanie, who had been by his side back in those unforgettable days.

"Gilles gave the public what they wanted," said Montezemolo at a subsequent press conference. "And he did not care about the championship, he drove each race as it came.

"I recall when Enzo Ferrari told me he'd spotted a youngster with great temperament and talent who raced snowmobiles in Canada. He had a pre-contract with McLaren, but Ferrari wanted to bring a breath of fresh air into the team. He was an extraordinary driver and human being."

"He wasn't after a championship, he wasn't political," added Jacques Villeneuve. "He got in the car to do the fastest laps all the time, and it is only the race itself that mattered. He was just passionate about his driving and his racing and that's what you can remember about him. It is not the races he did in a good car, it is the races he did in a bad car. He lived his passion and he lived it truly. He never lied about it, what you saw is what you got.

"When he got in the car everybody knew that he would make them dream. He would do whatever was possible out of that car. If he ended up last in a race he would fight to get back to the top, he would never give up. So everybody knew that they could count on him to give whatever was available."

The sight of 1996 world champion Jacques in the legendary red overalls of the Scuderia will no doubt have had many fans thinking, if only…

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