Here we are. Formula 1 is back on track this weekend, inaugurating the second round of the world championship. How many races still? Impossible to know because it is no longer the FIA or Liberty Media who decide, as much as the governments of the countries tormented by Covid. The grand prix in Singapore was missed, beautiful and spectacular on the equatorial night. The Japanese GP has been missed, fascinating due to the difficulties of the Suzuka track. Brazil (almost 600,000 deaths) has asked for a week’s postponement of the GP to be able to equip the entire public with homologated masks, a thesis that appeared a little delaying. And then there are the other races, almost all in poised, without any guarantee.
In the meantime, hoping that the world situation will improve, let’s enjoy next Sunday’s Belgian GP which is held on a date, 29 August, which represents a very important stage for Ferrari. Because it was the August 29, 1977, one Monday, when Gilles Villeneuve set foot for the first time in Italy and immediately had an interview with Enzo Ferrari which transformed his life. The week before, at his home in Berthieville, the phone had rang: “Hello, am I talking to Gilles Villeneuve? Engineer Enzo Ferrari would like to meet you, could you come to Maranello? I will immediately send you a plane ticket… “.
Villeneuve, who despite having debuted with McLaren at the British GP was a complete stranger to the general public, thought of a joke and, without conviction, replied with a confused “Yes, yes…”: Then he saw deliver the flight ticket from Montreal to Milan Malpensa and did not believe his eyes.
To welcome him at Malpensa he found Ennio Mortara, the Mantuan interpreter who had phoned him and who had recently been hired by Ferrari, together with the driver of the Cavallino who took them to Maranello in a white Fiat 131. The interview was short, Villeneuve listened to the proposal to drive for Ferrari and said he nevertheless had an option with McLaren. Even Niki Lauda – of whom Gilles would soon be replaced – in the first meeting with the Great Old Man said that he had to free himself from a commitment with Brm for the following season. Ferrari’s response to Villeneuve was identical to that given to Niki years earlier: “It’s not a problem, I can see it”.
So it was. This was followed by a point blank question addressed to the Canadian: “How much do you want to be happy and run with us? “. Gilles mumbled something and explained that he had a manager, Gaston Parent, who was in charge of contracts. And he added quickly: “… but in any case, could I have a deposit immediately?”.
The Villeneuve myth started from that moment, the rest is known. Also in August, on the 25th (it was 1991), Michael Schumacher debuted in F1 with Jordan at Spa-Francorchamps. Again in August, 10 (1995), the lawyer Agnelli made public the agreement between Schumi and Ferrari. Moments that changed the history of Formula 1, turning cheering into delirium.
FP | Pino Allievi
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