The battle that was waged for second place during the closing laps of the 1979 Grand Prix of France at Dijon will live on forever as one of the greatest in F1 history.
Jabouille and Arnoux amazed and delighted the French fans by putting their Renaults on the first row of the grid. Gilles Villeneuve, however, earned third on the grid. When the lights turned green, Villeneuve rocketed by both Renaults into turn one and built an early lead. Tire wear began to trouble both Ferrari drivers; Scheckter dropped back, and Jabouille closed on Villeneuve. The French crowd went wild when Jabouille finally took the lead from the struggling French-Canadian driver.
With 10 laps remaining and Jabouille well out in front, all eyes turned to Gilles Villenueve and Rene Arnoux in his Renault. Arnoux was right on Gilles' tail despite a fuel pick-up problem. The tires on Villeneuves Ferrari had already been driven well past their limits. With three laps to go, Arnoux pulled alongside the Ferrari. Villeneuve, smoke pouring off a locked front tire, tried to defend but lost the battle for second... but giving up just isn't in Gilles vocabulary!
On the next lap Gilles left his braking incredibly late at the end of the straight and the two took the next corner with their wheels interlocked. Last lap... in a repeat performance Arnoux took the inside. This time they hit! Arnoux flew off the road but recovered quickly and came back onto the track, bumping Villeneuve over the curb. At the Parabolique, a sharp right-hander, Arnoux went wide and Gilles was through! He held on by a whisker to take second place on the podium.
Those who saw this battle watched without taking a breath and witnessed a race that will never be forgotten.
Villeneuve and Arnoux passed each other six times and were never more than a car length apart in the closing laps of the 1979 Grand Prix of France.