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Capturing the infectious smile of Gilles Villeneuve on his first day at Ferrari

Introducing the second edition of a series of articles showcasing the work and processes behind one of Formula One’s best photographers, Richard Kelley. Read on as he retells the stories of his most memorable images.

In 1977, Gilles Villeneuve arrived in Ferrari’s Mosport pit for his first F1 session as a Scuderia driver after every photojournalist had been physically removed. There were to be no exceptions.

I left the pit lane and took position in front of a narrow three-inch split between the concrete wall sections that formed the rear of Ferrari’s pit stall. I was totally alone, waiting quietly to avoid drawing attention.

When Gilles arrived, I gently placed my Nikon’s telephoto lens in the middle of the the split and made the only series of images of a joyous Gilles Villeneuve at the very moment the team placed the Ferrari jacket on his shoulders.

Gilles once said, given three wishes, he would be a racer, be a Formula 1 driver, and drive for Ferrari. This then was his completion of his dream and my witnessing that moment with him was pure bliss.


If you fancy owning a high-quality print from one of F1’s greatest photographers, check out Richard Kelley’s entire collection available in the CD Shop.