Villeneuve Pironi docu-film to be released 40 years after F1 star’s death

This weekend’s Miami Grand Prix on 8 May will mark 40 years to the day since Canadian racing driver Gilles Villeneuve tragically lost his life in a devastating crash at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder. He was just 32 years old.

The exclusive interview footage was captured as part of upcoming documentary Villeneuve Pironi, which will tell the story of two supremely gifted Ferrari F1 drivers: Gilles Villeneuve & Didier Pironi, forever torn apart by a historic and hugely controversial moment in time. It is being produced by Noah Media Group and Sky Studios for Sky and NBCUniversal and is set for release later this year.

In the footage, shot at the recent Italian Grand Prix in Imola – the scene of the defining moment in the tragic Villeneuve Pironi story – Joann speaks eloquently about Gilles’ life and legacy as a true racer: “Gilles believed that the edge is where you have to be. To him the best thing was kissing the guard rails,” she said.

In addition to the first-look footage, images of Joann at Imola and an archive image of Gilles with the family in the prime of his racing career have also been released to mark 40 years since Villeneuve’s passing.

Charismatic and outspoken, the Canadian had risen from humble roots to realise his dream to race Formula 1. Naturally talented, Villeneuve’s fearless racing style delighted the sport’s purists and captured the imagination of fans worldwide. The beloved ‘surrogate son’ of the legendary Enzo Ferrari, by the early 1980s Gilles appeared destined to dominate F1 for the famous Italian team.

Imola in April 1982 was the location of the now infamous ‘betrayal’ between Ferrari teammates Gilles and Didier. It marked one of the most contentious moments in the history of the sport and Villeneuve Pironi will tell this astonishing story with the support of both families for the very first time.

Melanie Villeneuve added: “We are delighted to be working with Noah Media Group for the production of this docu-film. John Mckenna, Torquil Jones and the entire Noah team have done a tremendous job, doing extensive research, providing high-quality interviews and footage to tell a story which is important to my family.”

Currently in production across the UK, Canada, France and Italy and in collaboration with Sky Italia, both the Villeneuve and the Pironi families will contribute to the feature-length documentary, as will some of the biggest names in Formula 1 history. The film will be directed by Torquil Jones (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager), and produced by John McKenna (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans) as well as former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber.


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