18 Jan 1950
On 18th January 1950, Joseph Gilles Henri Villeneuve was born in Saint-Jean sur Richelieu in Canada. He took six Grand Prix wins from 67 starts, all bar one, the first, with Ferrari, two pole positions and seven fastest race laps, while his best finish in the Drivers’ championship was a second place in 1979: not exactly an amazing record, with others having done better, but it’s possible that no other driver was taken to heart by the fans quite as much as Gilles.
Today, we remember him through the words Enzo Ferrari wrote in his book, “Piloti, che gente….” “His temperament soon won over the crowds and very quickly he became…Gilles! Yes, some saw him as a barnstormer and thought he was a nutcase, but with his generosity, his intrepid nature, his ‘destructiveness,’ when driving the cars, eating up halfshafts, gearboxes, clutches, brakes, he showed what he could do in the way a driver can defend himself in an unpredictable way. He was the champion of fighting spirit and he brought so much notoriety to Ferrari. I loved him.”
And so did we…like all Ferrari fans!