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Villeneuve: 312 T4 ‘felt like proper racing car’
18 May 2012
Having had time to reflect on the opportunity he was afforded to drive one of his father's Ferrari F1 cars, Jacques Villeneuve admitted that it was both strange and exciting.
The Canadian, who joins Sky Sports F1 for its coverage of the Montreal race next month, was invited to drive one of the 312 T4 models that his father, Gilles, and 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter drove in period to mark the 30th anniversary of the former's tragic accident at Zolder.
Beautiful blue skies allowed for some fantastic images of Villeneuve Jr and the Ferrari as they lapped the Fiorano test track, but the driver admitted that his senses were filled by the car rather than his surroundings.
"To be able to get into a car that he was taking risks [in], that he was pushing, it was exciting,” the 1997 world champion conceded, “It felt like a proper, proper race car. You could feel it vibrate inside you and you forgot where you were. You suddenly forget that you're in a dangerous car and you go for it – that was amazing.
“You don't have a million buttons to think about, you're not behind a computer screen - you're in a proper race car that you have to manhandle, and that's fun. I could imagine racing with it, I could imagine being on the racing grid and going for it, it wouldn't feel strange.”
As well as the obvious excitement he drew from the rawness of the machine around him, Villeneuve also admitted that there was a more personal emotion to the outing.
“I sat in his original seat, original belts - nothing was touched,” he revealed, “It felt like it was a moulded seat - the position was good, it was comfortable, so it's a little bit strange.
“You get out there, you go through the revs, you get a little bit sideways, you get some tyre marks on the asphalt [and] you think 'okay, I get it that was special."
Villeneuve was only eleven when his father perished in 1982, but still has clear memories of the man many believe to have been the epitome of a racing driver.
"He was a racer at heart, that was his life,” he reflected, “When he was racing, he wasn't after a championship, he wasn't political. He got in the car to do the fastest laps all the time, and it was only the race itself that mattered.
“He was just passionate about his driving and his racing, that's what you remember about him. It wasn't the races he did when he was in a good car, but the races he did when he was in a bad car."