Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Gilles Villeneuve vs René Arnoux – Dijon 1979
Pen & ink with Prismacolor pencils 22"x 12"
© Paul Chenard 2008
This illustration is for sale; please contact me if you are interested.
The 1979 French Grand Prix had all the ingredients for public relations gold the Renault team.
Previous to the race, Renault had 5 weeks to fine tune and improve their French-designed turbo-charged cars. The cars were raced by 2 French drivers, Jean Pierre Jabouille and René Arnoux, fueled by French fuel (elf) and shod in French tires (Michelin).
The race was started and though Jabouille had to get by a very determined Villeneuve in Ferrari, he advanced easily into a lead that he would not relinquish.
Arnoux had only to do the same, and near the end of the race, he did. But because of a fuel pick-up problem, it was not as easy. The powers that be started popping corks for what was supposed to be a Renault sweep.
Of course, Villeneuve saw things differently. He noticed that Arnoux did not readily pull away, so saw that he had a slim but possible chance to fight for 2nd place, which is exactly what he did.
With worn out tires and a slight power deficit, Villeneuve proceed to regain the lead with a wreckless control that has become legend. He and Arnoux swapped leads a few times, bumping tires and moving on and off the track, with Villeneuve finally taking the flag for 2nd.
The media jumped on the story, almost forgetting who actually won. But Villeneuve exemplified the winning spirit.