F1 » In memory of … Ferrari No.27

After Nico Hulkenberg picked number 27 as his career number, Will Saunders looks at the history of the famous number at Ferrari, from Gilles Villeneuve through to Jean Alesi

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February 24, 2014 4:14 PM

It's just a number. However, having lived in Montreal I know how the locals associate a Ferrari #27 with Villeneuve, to the point that Alesi's win was celebrated and is still remembered as if he were one of his own. If Hulkenberg ever gets do drive for Ferrari, he will have the Canadian crowd on his side.


February 24, 2014 5:35 PM

@andren79 - i think suggesting that 'it's just a number' overlooks the fact that many of the totems, talismans and superstitions people hold are nothing more than supposedly 'meaningless' objects with a projected associated value. after all, what's a rabbit's foot, horseshoe or touching wood without context? i guess the point here is that the ferrari #27 came to represent a series of values and attributes that not all of its incumbents could live up to. it's interesting you suggest that alesi is still remembered in montreal as if he were one of their own - i think that tied up in that notion is his close stylistic and emotional resonance with the villeneuve values. would the 27 legend have been so fully consecrated without it being bookended by such a comparable driver? perhaps not, but the parallels between jean and gilles certainly helped perpetuate and solidify the idea of the ferrari #27 as something more than just a number for legions of f1 fans worldwide.


February 24, 2014 8:22 PM

I think Nico is a worthy recipient of the 27-imagine if Max had bagsied it???
The only current driver who epitomises the spirit of the number more in my opinion is Kobayashi,although he's probably p1ssed on his Ferrari chips now!


February 24, 2014 8:37 PM

Nice article capturing the essence of the Villeneuve legacy. I can still remember seeing hundreds of "Gilles Villenueve Forever" T shirts at Spa in '91 or '92, and the guy selling them had sold out by Ten am. Plenty of Mansell & Prost T shirts were still available though....


February 24, 2014 8:50 PM

Nicely put together article Will.

One small problem, you say the first Ferrari number 27 took to the grid in 1981 but I believe it was actually 1970.
Jacky Ickx qualified 4th and finished 8th at Spa 1970 in a number 27 Ferrari.
The race before (Monaco) Ignazio Giunti was entered to drive the number 27 Ferrari but it was during the period where Ferrari (under Fiat) were often running one car so he didn't even get the chance to qualify. So as far as I know Ickx took the first Ferrari number 27 to the grid at Spa '70, I'm happy to be proved wrong though.


February 25, 2014 9:47 AM

@taipan -

right you are! thanks for pointing that out.

and how apt that ickx would be the man who raced with 27, considering his stylistic assonance with villeneuve/alesi.

although in some mitigation, with numbers decided arbitrarily until 1974 (at the behest of individual race promoters - even the number one wasn't always assigned to the defending champion), the first conscious/consistent use of ferrari no. 27 wasn't until 1981. indeed, it was perhaps even seen as fortuitous when gilles inherited it, as alan jones had won the 1980 title in the no. 27 williams (and senna would later win the 1990 championship in the no. 27 mclaren).


February 26, 2014 4:29 AM
Last Edited 798 days ago

Beware Crash,

Taipan has been using the off-season to bone up on his F1 stats, so there will be no wriggle room for inaccuracies this season.

As we know, put an F1 stats sheet in front of the old slider and he will devour it like he would a fluffy cute guinea pig.

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