Au Revoir, Patrick

It happened almost 40 years ago. A moment of pure joy and elation. A moment almost unrivalled for the emotion it depicts. A moment that still means so much.

358 days after the death of Gilles Villeneuve, Frenchman Patrick Tambay holds his hands aloft as he wins at Imola in front of the adoring Tifosi—the last time Enzo Ferrari would see one his cars first to the chequered flag.

Gilles’ No. 27 is emblazoned on Tambay’s car as he passes a Canadian flag on the on the Autodromo Dino Ferrari (as it was then known) grid.

The win is a fitting tribute to the great Gilles Villeneuve. It ends a tragic and tumultuous chapter in the Scuderia’s history that began with a Villeneuve-Pironi feud at Imola and culminated in Gilles’ death and an accident that ended Didier’s career.

It was like it was meant to be, as Tambay recalled years later in an interview with The Race.

“Something strange was going on out there,” he said.

“At one stage in the race, I was losing focus a little, then there was a loud bang and something pushed my helmet. I’ve no idea what it was but it woke me up. Maybe it was Gilles…”

Au revoir, Patrick.


Scott Russell