The determination and the charisma of Villeneuve driving are the mirror of his character. In life as well as on the track the Canadian driver of the Formula 1, World Champion in 1997 always pushes the limits. We meet him on the Romagna Riviera the day after the second round of the Italian Gran Turismo Endurance Championship at the wheel of his Ferrari 488 GT of the Scuderia Baldini that will take place on the track of the Misano Adriatico racetrack.
by Francesca Capaccioli
The passion for racing is part of your way of being, in fact you run in three championships…
Yes, even at my age I’m still in the racing world and I think I’m very lucky. I started 30 years ago, and I still do it today. I run in the European Nascar Championship, the Italian endurance GT with Fisichella who is my team mate, I do races in Sweden with Porsche Cup and then, beyond the races, I do the commentary for Formula 1 on the Sky and on the Canal Plus TV channels.
Do you miss Formula 1?
I miss the Formula 1 of when I was racing! They were incredible cars to drive. Today there are cars that run faster, but they seem boring; there is a lot of technology and politics; I don’t miss that environment, I miss the race, to go beyond my abilities. For me Formula 1 was this.
When did you realize you wanted to be a pilot?
I realized it when I was five years old. When I was a child I played with cars, with electric tracks, I drew tracks on paper, I drove on my dad’s knees, it was the only thing I wanted to do, even as a lifestyle; I have the need to push the limit, to do more than the others do.
What memories do you have about your father?
I have a few memories. I don’t know the reason; maybe because he wasn’t very present, but it could be that the brain hides things. You know, memory chooses what to remember or not, always! I remember him more as a pilot than a dad.
Was it hard for to be his son?
Just a little. On one hand yes, when people and journalists asked me things, they never wanted an honest answer, they wanted to hear only certain things because for them I represented the continuity of Gilles. For everyone I was running to continue what he started, and they saw him in me! Every time I said that I was running for myself because I liked it, they used to get mad, and from that moment on I preferred just not to talk about it. Surely this surname helped me at the beginning to find sponsors, but at the same time they took for granted that I could drive just because my name was Villeneuve, even without experience. So, I had to learn quickly. It was a great school that helped me me to face Formula 1.
You are the dad of four sons. What kind of father are you?
I try to create a relationship of love and trust. I’m always on the move for work, but I’m very present when I’m at home. My children see the image of a working father and this is important to me.
Do you miss living in Montecarlo?
The period in Montecarlo was beautiful. Montecarlo was full of Italians, so it was a small Italy in the way of acting and in the education, it was fun to grow there and it will remain a beautiful memory.
Where would you like to live?
Certainly, in Italy, because it’s a country where anything can happen, and then because Italians know how to take care of themselves.
Ph Scuderia Baldini