Having Jacques Villeneuve as a pundit on the Sky F1 coverage for the Canadian Grand Prix was a refreshing change. He has some interesting opinions, in particular his comments about drivers today not showing enough passion or excitement. Considering the fact that he is the son of one of the most passionate drivers of all time, it is fitting that this should be his belief.
Gilles Villenueve had a fearless attitude to his driving, famously stating that he was not worried about breaking his legs in an F1 car. Not someone to do things by halves, he was always trying to surpass himself, searching for the ultimate lap. Something which sadly resulted in his death during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982.
Watching footage of Gilles and Arnoux from Dijon 1979 does induce a nostalgic feeling for the days when drivers really raced, exuding passion that was impossible to miss.
If this sort of racing happened now it would be followed by a visit to the stewards. Is it that current drivers lack passion, or is it a case of them not being allowed to show it on the track? The attitude Gilles had about never taking it easy to guarantee second place when there was a chance of pushing relentlessly to gain first, is an attitude that is not always apparent now. Whether this is due to the teams being cautious, wanting to see the car home intact and gaining points rather than in the barrier, or whether it is the drivers worried about being handed a possible penalty, it creates a detrimental air of compliance.
The passionate driving style of Giles Villeneuve was often considered too reckless, but was equally regarded as being refreshing in a conformist period of F1. In 2012 we seem to be in another era of following the rules and keeping harmony, when what fans really want is some good old fashioned racing from the heart, Gilles style.