Team-mate or Traitor??

Ultimate betrayal

In the closing stages of the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1982 Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi (both driving for Ferrari) were lining up for a thrilling One-Two finish in front of their home crowd.  Back in 1982 F1 cars were notoriously unreliable, fragile and prone to break down or run out of fuel.   With 15 laps left to run, the Ferrari team ordered their drivers to slow down to ensure the cars got to the finish.  One school of thought is that Villeneuve believed this meant they should maintain their positions and as a result they should “hold station” and finish without racing each other.  On the other hand, Pironi’s view was that they were still free to race each other and as a result he duly passed Villenuve a couple of laps later. Villeneuve believed this passing manouvre by Pironi was a dishonourable and underhand manouvre as he (Villeneuve) had slowed down to comply with team orders and therefore he was not defending his position.  A few laps later Villeneuve retook the lead and some observers say instead of reinforcing the pass and driving away from Pironi he actually slowed down again in front of him.   On the last lap Pironi took the lead at Tosa corner and crossed the line to take victory.  Villeneuve was enraged by what he saw as the ultimate betrayal by his team-mate and vowed never to speak to Pironi again.   At the following race two weeks later in Zandvoort Holland relations were still strained between the two with neither driver on speaking terms.  Villeneuve who was still angry about what happened (and some say angry at the lack of support from the Ferrari team) was behaving like a man on a mission ie, to outdrive his team mate.  In the closing stages of the Saturday qualifying Villeneuve drove what has been referred to as the ultimate “Banzai” flying lap (and possibly with the red mist of anger clouding his judgement) he came upon a slower lapping Jochen Mass who had moved over to one side to let Villeneuve through – unfortunately Gilles had already committed himself to take Mass on the other side and the two cars touched with catastrophic results for Villeneuve.  A terrible end to that falling-out between the two at Imola two weeks earlier.   In this small 1/43rd scle vignette I wanted to capture the body language of both drivers  at the Imola aftermath – I’ve seen photos and footage of Pironi on the podium waving to the crowd in joyous mood with Villeneuve standing by with a steely expressionless gaze and clearly not wanting to be part of the whole “2nd place” thing.  Once again, I’ve use two of my favourite Denizen castings (which I have modified) to convey Gilles (head bowed) leaving the proceedings with Pironi in the background basking in his glory.  So far I’ve just blocked in the main colours with more detail painting to follow.

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