Wow Gilles! Villeneuve. The Undying Legend, by Giorgio Terruzzi (text) and Ercole Colombo (photographs)
© 2017, published by Skira
ISBN 9788857236056 (Hardcover)

Gilles Villeneuve remains one of the most colorful and enigmatic drivers to have graced the Formula 1 stage, and almost 36 years after his shocking death at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix his legacy still shines brightly.

This diminutive, little-known Canadian was summoned by the great team boss Enzo Ferrari to replace two-time World Champion Niki Lauda in the Ferrari line-up. There were few shoes as big to fill, but his appointment sparked a thrilling partnership between driver and team that featured some memorable drives and shocking accidents in equal measure.

Villeneuve died at the age of 32 – most people thought he was 30, but he had lied about his age to prolong his career. His obsession with speed – racing cars, production cars, powerboats and helicopters – both thrilled his fans and terrified his friends and family.

His Formula 1 career states he won just six Grands Prix, but everyone will remember them. He made Ferrari’s #27 iconic, he made it his racing identity. This was a man with an endearing smile, who was a loyal deputy until his trust was broken by teammate Didier Pironi two weeks before his almost inevitable death.

Wow Gilles! is a collection of anecdotes, quotes and iconic photographs celebrating Villeneuve’s all-too-brief time in the Formula 1 spotlight.

The story is principally told through the photographs of award-winning photographer Ercole Colombo, which are a mix of racing, trackside and candid non-racing images that capture the public persona of Villeneuve the Racing Driver and private life of Villeneuve the Husband and Father. The photographs are beautifully composed and capture the many (usually sideways) thrilling moments of Villeneuve’s career.

Colombo obviously had significant access to Villeneuve – and subsequently the family’s photographic archives – to capture the personality and significance of the man who would become an icon of the sport. There are a few photographs from his final Grand Prix in Zolder, although mercifully none of the crash that claimed his life and would have cheapened this book significantly.

The translations of Giorgio Terruzzi’s text are rather stilted, although his narration is relatively sparse given Wow Gilles! is first and foremost a photographic book. Throughout the pages are quotes from the likes of Enzo Ferrari, Niki Lauda and Villeneuve himself.

Click here to read our other product reviews.

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.