The tragic feud between Ferrari drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi in 1982 will be made into a bio-pic, while the Canadian’s family will on Sunday provide in-depth interviews to mark the occasion of the 40th anniversary of that fateful day at Zolder.
Villeneuve may only have won six Grands Prix but his legend remains forever a favourite, one of the greats for many, among them Tifosi and F1 fans of that generation. He was also Enzo Ferrari’s favourite ‘son’.
This weekend’s Miami Grand Prix on 8 May will mark 40 years to the day since Canadian racing driver Gilles Villeneuve tragically lost his life in a devastating crash at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. He was just 32 years old.
The Villeneuve family, including Gilles’ wife Joann, daughter Melanie and F1 World Champion son Jacques, have marked the occasion with a poignant and powerful interview about the legacy of the racing icon, which is to be featured by multiple international broadcasters during the F1 coverage of Sunday’s race.
The exclusive interview footage was captured as part of the upcoming documentary ‘Villeneuve Pironi’, which will tell the incredible story of two supremely gifted Ferrari F1 drivers: Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi, forever torn apart by a historic and hugely controversial moment in time.
The documentary is produced by Noah Media Group and Sky Studios for Sky & NBCUniversal and is set for release later this year.
In the footage, shot at the recent Italian Grand Prix in Imola – the scene of the defining moment in the tragic ‘Villeneuve Pironi’ story – Joann speaks eloquently about Gilles’ life and legacy as a true racer: “Gilles believed that the edge is where you have to be. To him, the best thing was kissing the guard rails.”
In addition to the first-look footage, images of Joann at Imola and an archive image of Gilles with the family in the prime of his racing career, have also been released to mark 40 years since Villeneuve’s passing.
Charismatic and outspoken, the Canadian had risen from humble roots to realise his dream to race F1 . Supremely naturally talented, Villeneuve’s fearless style delighted the sport’s purists and captured the imagination of F1 fans worldwide.
The rot started at Imola and ended two weeks later tragically at Zolder
The beloved ‘adopted son’ of legendary Enzo Ferrari, by the early 1980s Gilles appeared destined to dominate F1 for the famous Italian team.
Imola in April 1982 was the location of the now-infamous “betrayal” between Ferrari teammates Gilles and Didier. It marked one of the most contentious moments in the history of the sport and ‘Villeneuve Pironi’ will tell this astonishing story with the support of both families for the very first time.
Melanie Villeneuve added: ‘We are delighted to be working with Noah Media Group for the production of this docu-film. John Mckenna, Torquil Jones and the entire Noah team have done a tremendous job, doing extensive research, providing high-quality interviews and footage to tell a story which is important to my family.’
Currently in production across the UK, Canada, France and Italy and in collaboration with Sky Italia, both the Villeneuve and the Pironi families, respectively, will contribute to the feature-length documentary, as will some of the biggest names in Formula 1 history.
The film will be directed by Torquil Jones (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager), and produced by John McKenna (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans) as well as former Formula 1® driver Mark Webber.