One of Formula 1’s most infamous disputes will be the subject of an upcoming feature documentary. Villeneuve & Pironi will focus on a two-week period involving Ferrari drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi which culminated in a controversy during the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix that many fans referred to as “The Betrayal.”

As DriveTribe’s Archie Wingate explains, Villeneuve and Pironi were very different drivers. Villeneuve was more of a risk-taker, willing to crash while taking a chance for a win. Meanwhile, Pironi was a calmer, more calculating competitor who looked for opportunities to capitalize upon rather than force them.

That made for quite a clash of philosophies on the Ferrari F1 race team as seen in the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.

“T​he duo continued to battle for a bit, until Ferrari decided it was time to implement team orders, putting out a pit board for both of them, saying to ‘SLOW’. Villeneuve followed the orders, Pironi didn’t, overtaking him a few laps later.”

Villeneuve believed he was being a team player and following a gentlemen’s agreement, while Pironi completely disregarded it. Pironi won the race, claiming that he thought the “SLOW” sign meant to be careful not to crash. Villeneuve was furious, maintaining that “SLOW” meant drivers should hold their position.

“Before this, our relationship had always been good and I trusted him,” Villeneuve told reporters, according to DriveTribe. “But I won’t make that fucking mistake again. I have declared war. I’ll do my own thing in the future.”

Unfortunately, the feud between the two drivers reached a tragic end just two weeks later when Villeneuve died in a crash during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

According to Deadline, the intention was initially to make a documentary solely about Villeneuve. But Noah Media Group CEO John McKenna was concerned that the film would then be too similar to 2010’s Senna. The project was then changed to focus on a two-week period leading up to the fateful incident at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Noah Media — perhaps best known for Finding Jack Charlton about the legendary Irish soccer player —  is producing the documentary with Sky Studios. Current F1 driver Mark Webber is an executive producer on the project. Torquil Jones — who has directed documentaries on football manager Sir Bobby Robson, mountaineer Nimsdai Purja, and Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis — is attached to the film as director.

Villeneuve & Pironi will first air on Sky/Now TV in Italy, Germany, and the U.K. with NBCUniversal Global Distribution handling international rights. Will that mean the documentary streams on Peacock in the United States?


About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.