F1 1996 Championship

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In 1996 Villeneuve joined Frank Williams' F1 team.
Everyone was so impatient to watch the son of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve racing in F1.

In his F1 debut at the "Transurban Australian Grand Prix" in Melbourne, Villeneuve started from the pole position joining Guiseppe Farina, Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann as the only drivers to achieve pole position in their first race. After a duel with his team mate Damon Hill and an oil leak he finished second.

Live commentary of the duel

Villeneuve's maiden F1 victory came in his 4rth race in F1 at the "European Grand Prix" in Nurburgring. He won, despite he was under pressure from Michael Schumacher during most of the race. David Coutlhard was 3rd with McLaren Mercedes.

During the qualification session of the "French Grand Prix" in Magny-Cours, Villeneuve had a huge crash without being hurted. At the following race he finished 2nd behind his team-mate while he was qualified only 6th.

Onboard view of the crash

His driving talent was demonstrated at the "Grande Premio de Portugal" in Estoril. On lap 16, Villeneuve managed an impossible overtake from the outside line to the then twice world champion Michael Schumacher, in the final long fast right-handed turn named "Parabolica Ayrton Senna", while Schumacher was ready to give a lap-down to the back-marking Minardi of Giovanni Lavaggi.

Villeneuve later narrated; "That really pissed him off and he came to me afterwards and said that it was dangerous and stupid and how lucky I was that it was him I was overtaking, otherwise we would have had a crash.
He was really, really angry at me. I had told the team before the race that I would overtake somebody there - they all laughed. It just gave me the biggest grin - I couldn't contain it."

Villeneuve contented his teammate for the world title until the final round of the season at the Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix" in Suzuka.

Although Villeneuve took the pole position of the race, a poor start and an exit on 36th lap after losing one of his back wheels, made him to retire out of the race.

The championship went to his team mate Damon Hill, who won five races to Villeneuve's four but the French Canadian's amazing F1 debut was the talk of the racing world.