Son of the late race legend, Gilles Villeneuve, the ex World
Champion entered Formula1 with a bang in 1996 as reigning American IndyCar champ. One of
the few old school 'characters' in Formula1 at the moment, if he isn't talking about how
he wants to drive much, much faster he is shocking the paddock with the ever-changing
colour of his hair.
The French Canadian came second in his first Grand Prix in 1996, and finished the season
second in the Drivers' Championship behind Williams' team mate, Damon Hill. The following
year he won the championship for himself, after a mighty tussle with Michael Schumacher,
which saw the German stripped of his points because of a collision in the last race of the
season at Jerez that the FIA deemed unnecessary.
Rule changes at the start of 1998 saw Williams off the pace, and the season peaked with a
couple of back-to-back 3rd places in Germany and Hungary. This prompted a dissatisfied
Villeneuve to move to British American Racing in 1999, a team set-up by his close friend
and manager, Craig Pollock, and that was formed around the French Canadian.
1999 was not kind to Villeneuve. He endured a difficult year with the BAR team, and
suffered 11 consecutive retirements. When he did finish it was never in the points and so,
for the first time in his Formula1 career, he did not register on the championship board.
However, the media still flocked around him for two reasons: his dramatic crash during
qualifying for the 1999 Belgian Grand Prix, which he typically laughed off, and his
relationship with Australian pop star and actress, Dannii Minogue. Despite rumours that
they were to marry on New Year's Eve 1999 the ceremony never took place, and they
currently live together in Monaco.
2000 proved to be an improvement for BAR, and Villeneuve finished seventh with seventeen
points in the drivers' standings. The team had solved the reliability problems experienced
the year before and so Villeneuve was often in the position to pick up points from races,
if not fast enough to challenge for a place on the podium. Benetton attempted to woo him
away from the Brackley-based team with a very lucrative contract for 2001, but he
eventually decided to stay with the outfit.
This year Pollock has promised ahead of the launch that BAR will be in a position to
challenge for wins, despite the fact that in preseason testing Villeneuve struggled to get
the best from his BAR003. The team are determined to impress Honda, ahead of the Japanese
manufacturer's other works team, Jordan, and Villeneuve is a big part of this plan. He is
looking for a win and a realistic chance of challenging for the championship soon, and if
this does not look likely he can soon be expected to move on from BAR.
||Stays with BAR. Villeneuve finishes
7th with 17 points in the drivers' championship. He is more satisfied with the car's
performance but still wants assurance that he will be able to challenge for wins soon.
||First year with BAR. Reliability
problems see him finish few races. No points scored.
||Stays with Williams. 5th in the table
behind only the Mclaren and Ferrari men, he was effectively "best of the rest".
Two podium appearances, in Germany and Hungary.
||Wins World Championship with Williams.
Secures victory in seven of the seventeen races.
Formula1 debut in Australia with Williams, finishing second. Claims his first victory at
the European Grand Prix. Finishes runner-up to team mate Damon Hill, closing the gap
significantly at the back end of the season.
winning four races, including the Indianapolis 500, he becomes the youngest ever winner of
the PPG IndyCar World Championship. Williams announce that he'll partner Damon Hill for
the 1996 Formula One World Championship.
||Named IndyCar 'Rookie of the Year'.
Finishes sixth overall with 94 points.
||Competes in the Toyota Atlantic
Championship, finishing third.
||Moves to Japan to compete in the
Japanese Formula Three Championship, finishing second overall.
||Drives a Ralt-Alfa Romeo RT35 and
finishes sixth in the Italian Formula Three Championship.
||Competes in the Italian Formula Three
Championship for the second time, finishing 14th.
||Makes his Italian Formula Three debut.