Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari legend: would he have liked racing in Formula One F1 today?
I was reading the other day an article in which the well known and respected writer said that Gilles Villeneuve would have hated Formula One today. Immediately I agreed but then after a little consideration I was not so sure.
I started to watch F1 seriously in about 1976. I was eleven years old and the sport hit the headlines a few times around that period. David Price was killed by a Marshall and a fire extinguisher, Graham Hill’s plane crashed, Niki got burnt and James came home with the title! From then on I followed the sport religiously and onto the scene came a crazy guy named Gilles. When you are a teenager you certainly do not forget the guy who drives around the circuit like a looney on three wheels or drives through the rain like it is dry. He was the ideal hero to a young fan and in my eyes could do no wrong!
Today the youngsters have Max Verstappen and I see similarities but it is easily argued that the sport is so much safer so there is no room for comparison. But I am not so sure. So here is my reasoning and why Giles may just have fitted in after all.
After reading many books on Gilles it is quite clear he was relatively shy, he certainly did not chase stardom, so would the pits and paddock today not be a comfortable place to be? Protected from the masses by security and fences. He could still even stay in his Motorhome in relative peace. Gilles was also sidelined by many brushes with the barriers and scenery but today he could thrash the life out of any car and complete most races.
And just one more important point: would Gilles be around today if the sport had not taken his life? Probably not! Gilles drove his road cars like a lunatic and had near miss after near miss. Eventually his luck on the road would have run out. If that didn’t end him maybe the helicopter piloted in much the same way would have done! At least today he may well have been around for a few more years. What do you guys think?
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