Salut Gilles: Formula 1 world praises Canadian legend Gilles Villeneuve 39 years after his death

The Quebec driver won six races in F1 until his career was cut short in 1982 by a fatal crash in Belgium

By Yuri Coghe
@yuricoghe
Born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Villeneuve raced in Formula One from 1977 to 1982 (Photo: F1/Twitter)

On May 8, 1982, Formula 1 lost one of its most impressive talents ever when the legendary Gilles Villeneuve crashed in the qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix. 39 years after his death, the Canadian is still being remembered and praised by the motorsport community.

Born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Villeneuve raced in Formula One from 1977 to 1982, recording six wins, 13 podiums, two pole positions and eight fastest laps until his career was cut short by a fatal crash. He was 32 years old.

Formula 1 used a quote by Scuderia Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari to pay its respects to the late driver on social media. “His death has deprived us of a great champion – one that I loved very much,” Ferrari said back in 1982.

Villeneuve debuted in F1 with McLaren in the 1977 British Grand Prix, his only race with the team. He came back to F1 in the following year, adding 68 races to his name and becoming a motorsport and team legend.

The Italian team published a five-minute tribute video to the late driver, featuring interviews with three crew members that shared the garage with the Canadian. McLaren also paid its respects on Twitter, posting a story focused on his maiden F1 race with the team. See both tweets below.

Gilles’ son, Jacques Villeneuve, also made it to F1. He won the driver’s championship in 1997, his second year in the series. He was the runner-up in the year before. It remains Canada’s only world title to this day.

The Montreal race track, home of the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix since 1978, has been named Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after his death. He won at home in 1978, when it was still named Circuit Île Notre-Dame.

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