Thirty-eight years have passed since the disappearance of Gilles Villeneuve, the most beloved driver of his generation and without whom, for many, car racing has never been the same. The behavior of his teammate at Ferrari, Didier Pironi, was one of the factors in the Zolder accident. At Imola, two weeks earlier, the red cars were heading for a double, Gilles in the lead. But on the last lap, in the final passing zone, Pironi had suddenly overtaken him and stole the victory. Until then, Villeneuve had great confidence in Pironi, but from then on he vowed never to speak to him again: thirteen days later, in a fast lap at the end of qualifying, the accident happened.
Pironi has always claimed his innocence in the Imola controversy, assuring that he believed the two were fighting for victory. The facts – notably the "Slow" message sent through the signage of the pit wall – suggest the opposite, but Villeneuve was gone, leaving Pironi in control of everything he had done at Ferrari. The emotion was strong. "In Imola, it was more than stealing a victory", confides a prominent figure of the paddock. "Pironi knew what effect it would have on someone with the Gilles mentality, and he wanted to undermine it."