Binotto ‘lucky not to be managing a driver like Villeneuve’

Sam Cooper
Gilles Villeneuve turns a corner in his Ferrari car. Imola, October 1987.

Ferrari's Gilles Villeneuve turns a corner during the 40th Anniversary of Ferrari at Autodrome Dino Ferrari. Imola, October 1987.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has joked he is “lucky” not to have to manage a driver like Gilles Villeneuve at an event that commemorated the driver’s life.

On May 8, it will be 40 years since the crash that claimed Gilles Villeneuve’s life but since then, relatively few have come to embody what being a Formula 1 driver means.

Villeneuve only won six races and his son, Jacques, went on to have a more successful career, including winning the 1997 World Championship. But Villeneuve senior was one of the most widely loved drivers in the history of the sport.

While modern drivers are tasked with being disciplined, Villeneuve was of a different era and it was this all-or-nothing attitude that made him a fans’ favourite of not just the sport but particularly with Ferrari fans.

One particular fan has gone on to have quite the influence at the team and finds himself overseeing the Prancing Horse’s charge at a first Drivers’ title since Kimi Räikkönen in 2007.

“I had his poster hanging in my room,” says current team boss Mattia Binotto, as reported by Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I am lucky not to have to manage a driver like him. Mine are disciplined, they know how to manage tyres, strategies.

“But Gilles, with his passion, embodies well the hashtag that is Ferrari. He won only six races, but nobody has nurtured the myth of the Prancing Horse like him.”

The 52-year-old was speaking at the premiere of ‘L’Aviatore’, a film about Villeneuve’s life to be released on the 40th anniversary of his death during qualifying at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix, and in the past he has been wary about comparing the Canadian’s style with current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.


“It would be the same as comparing footballers from different eras,” Binotto said, as reported by

“Gilles was a brave driver, always on the limit. Talking about tactics and strategy was pointless with him and Enzo Ferrari fell in love with that. Compared to today, fortunately I don’t have to manage someone like Gilles.

“People often compare Gilles with Charles, but there is a big difference in the comparison with now – which is the risk these guys took.

“Before, an accident could take away their legs and feet. Today, fortunately, safety in Formula 1 has improved dramatically. Ferrari have been very active in this journey.

“If Gilles had raced in today’s cars, he would still be here. This is also a tribute to Formula 1 and to Ferrari that has always been instrumental in this growth.”


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