In his six years in Formula 1, Gilles Villeneuve won a grand total of 6 races. His best finish in the championship was 2nd in 1979, finishing behind his Ferrari teammate Jody Scheckter. By the numbers, it was a fairly unremarkable career. However, if you speak to the old guard about F1, his name routinely comes up. They talk about him with such reverence that you’re left wondering why.
The simple answer is this, Villeneuve was one of the most spectacular drivers of his era. When he was on a charge one simply did not leave the room because Villeneuve would make something spectacular happen, and this made him a fan favorite. Given more time I am certain Gilles would have won a championship.
Eventually the stars would have aligned and the F1 Gods would have given him the title he rightly deserved. Sadly, Villeneuve was taken far before his time. On May 8th 1982 Villeneuve was involved in a fatal accident at Zolder, but the Villeneuve story did not end there. Gilles’ son, Jacques went on to win a Formula 1 Championship in 1997.
Antti Kalhola has put together a great video. In 4+ minutes you will plainly see Villeneuve’s greatness behind the wheel.