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When he raced in Formula One, Canadian Jacques Villeneuve never steered away from controversy, always spoke his mind, and never hesitated to express his feelings.

But when it came to discussing his legendary racing father, Gilles, he uncharacteristically slammed on the brakes. Journalists covering the sport often followed an unwritten rule in interviews: Don't ask Villeneuve about his dad.

While Villeneuve revealed that he never really talked about racing with his father and insisted there was no doubt the sport was in his blood, that was usually where the conversation ended.

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"It was personal, so it wasn't something I was ready really to discuss, but the main reason is that my answer was totally different from what people wanted to hear and that created negativity to start with. It was much easier to say 'I don't want to talk about it and that's it,' " said Villeneuve, 36, whose father died after a qualifying crash 25 years ago today at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix.

"People would be disappointed in my answer because I had a different outlook on it because I was his son. I was there, I was living it every day, I wasn't a fan of him, he was my hero, but it was different.

"I wasn't champion as a Villeneuve, I was champion as me and that's what mattered to me. I raced not to continue what my father had started, I raced because I loved it and I wanted to race and win for myself."

Eschewing romantic ideals others had for his career was consistent with his father's teachings about always looking forward in life, he insisted.

But Villeneuve also knew the shadow of his father would cast across his career no matter what he decided to pursue. "If I had gone into skiing instead of racing, people would have started saying: 'Oh, he's done it on purpose to avoid his dad,' " he said.

After Villeneuve made his first public display of appreciation for his father by driving the Ferrari 312 T3 car Gilles piloted to his maiden victory at the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix, the reaction from some only served to strengthen the son's resolve.

Minutes after turning a few laps wearing a replica of his father's helmet at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June of 2004, a number of people suggested he should use the colours in F1 because it would attract interest and sponsors.

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"But that wasn't the point," Villeneuve snapped as he recounted the incident after almost three years. "It's something special and it shouldn't be used and abused."

Driving the car also lent him a greater understanding of his father's genius behind the wheel, something that won Gilles countless fans. "It [the adoration]was always a part of my life when my dad was alive and even afterwards, so if it hadn't have been there, then it would have surprised me. When people would ask: 'Wow do you see that?' I'd say: 'Yeah, of course, I've seen it all my life,' " he explained.

In the end, his decision to avoid public discussions of his father led to some nasty accusations that Villeneuve didn't appreciate his name or care about his heritage.

But he contends that's simply because outsiders didn't understand his father and the values he instilled in his family.

"People will read what I am saying now and get so angry and they'll start thinking that he hates his dad and doesn't realize the help he got," he said.

"But I do actually realize the help I got from being his son and I am super proud of him being my dad and he's up there and he's always been my hero but that doesn't mean that I raced in order to continue the legacy. I am not one to start lying just to make people happy, that's all."

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