I first met Gilles Villeneuve at Silverstone in 1977, when he had a one-off drive in a McLaren at the British Grand Prix, and we chatted again at Watkins Glen, where he was a guest of Ferrari, preparatory to replacing Niki Lauda in the team. His first full season of F1 was 1978, and it was on May 20 at Zolder - where he would lose his life four years later - that I first conducted a proper interview with him.
Formula One was relatively informal in those days. You set up an interview by going directly to the driver, and organising a time convenient to you both. "How about now?" said Gilles. Ferrari did not have a motorhome, as such, in those days, and so we sat in the back of the transporter, with the distant singing of the mechanics - who lived on Lambrusco back then - in the background.
Earlier that afternoon Villeneuve had qualified his 312T3 fourth, but the next day he offered the only challenge to Mario Andretti's dominant Lotus 79, finally finishing fourth after cruising a lap back to the pits with a puncture.