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Charles Leclerc pays tribute to a Ferrari great

Prior to scoring pole position and a second place at the recent Grand Prix in Miami, Ferrari star Charles Leclerc paid tribute to Canadian ace Gilles Villeneuve on the 40th anniversary of his passing.

In a different piece of content in relation to the others featured on Repco’s The Garage, Leclerc piloted Ferrari’s 1979 312 T4 piloted by Villeneuve and 1979 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Jody Scheckter.

Termed ‘ugly by effective’ by Enzo Ferrari, the V12-powered 312 T4 won six races in 1979 split evenly between Scheckter and Villeneuve, however at Fiorano after Easter it was Leclerc’s turn.

Although achieving just six race victories during his short career, Villeneuve’s unrelenting, limitless driving style has endured the test of time since his tragic fatal qualifying crash at Zolder during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982.

The year had already been filled with controversy, particularly at Ferrari where a war between Villeneuve and teammate Didier Pironi had broken out and came to a disastrous conclusion.

This story is set to become a documentary, with it being in the early stages of development.

Attending Leclerc’s taste of the past was the Giacobazzi family, owners of the 312 T4, Villeneuve’s replacement for 1983 Rene Arnoux, while mechanics of the era Umberto ‘Benny’ Benassi, Gabriele Pagliarini, Pietro Corradini and Anderlmo Menabue also kept a watching brief.

Also on hand was Ferrari’s test driver Andrea Bertolini, who gave Leclerc a little advice before he took the wheel of this historic chassis.

“You have to engage the gears decisively, be careful with the tyres; they’re very hard and the grip is limited,” said Bertolini.

Although careful initially, Leclerc gained speed throughout his short history lesson as he marvelled at the skills and fitness possessed by his predecessor’s in driving the 312 T4.

“I would have liked to carry on,” he enthused. “Driving this single-seater is fantastic, even if it must have been quite a feat to do it for an entire Grand Prix.

“I know Villeneuve for his courage, recklessness and indomitable character. He only won six races but he probably contributed to the myth of the Prancing Horse like no one else.

“It was an honour for me to be able to drive this single-seater in memory of him. For my part, I hope I can keep thrilling the fans with my races for Ferrari.”