30 years after the tragic accident that claimed his father’s life, Jacques Villeneuve takes to the track at Fiorano in Gilles’ 312 T4
It’s wonderful that Jacques Villeneuve has finally made peace with the memory father Gilles who was snatched from him at such a tender age. Being the son of an idol is tough. Being the son of a hero can be a real no-win situation.
On that infamous day in 1997, when Schumacher’s Ferrari was passed by Jacques Villeneuve in the Williams a few laps from the end at the European Grand Prix in Jerez, crushing our hopes of bringing the title back to Maranello, the young Canadian must have felt a sense of catharsis as he finally outdid his father’s achievements. This was little Jacques who witnessed tragic accident at Zolder. Jacques who, as a young driver, had always been known as Gilles’ son. Now, however, he’d finally broken that giant taboo bequeathed to him by his father, by winning the World title that had eluded the latter.
This rather Oedipal story will draw to a fitting close on May 8th next when Jacques takes the wheel of Gilles’ 312 T4 at Fiorano. He’ll quite literally step into his father’s shoes and bring him alive again in what will be an emotional day for all of us. But of one thing I am certain: Jacques, or should I simply say Villeneuve, will be the one feeling the most emotion that day.