The day Jacques drove his dad's Ferrari

Gilles Villeneuve remembered on track at Fiorano when his son, the 1997 World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve drove his father’s Ferrari 312 T4.

On May 8th 2012, at the Fiorano Circuit, one could be forgiven for imagining that Gilles Villeneuve was back on track, when shortly after 10.30, a 312 T4 rumbled out of the pits prior to doing a few laps of the track. In fact, this was a special commemoration organised by Ferrari as a tribute to the Canadian driver who raced for the Maranello Scuderia from 1977 until he died tragically during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on 8 May 1982.

On the thirtieth anniversary of his death, his son Jacques took to the track in his memory, 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’ Championship title. Taking part in the event were Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, the Vice President Piero Ferrari, the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, 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 courageous 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.

The whole family always went to the races and we lived in the motorhome…it was much better than going to school! Most of the memories I have are from the race track, sitting down watching the races. So ninety percent of what I remember of my father is him as a driver, not home very often, always on the go and if he wasn’t in a car, then it was a helicopter or a plane. But that seemed normal, he was my father. I think I am lucky to be driving at a time when cars are safer, otherwise maybe I’d be dead too, given that like him, by nature, I tend to go always right to the limit.
— Jacques Villeneuve on Gilles