Born in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, his father, Gilles Villeneuve, was a Formula One race car driver who was killed during qualifying at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix when Jacques was only 11 years old.
Jacques moved to IndyCar racing in 1994, and was declared rookie of the year after a string of strong results including a victory at Elkhart Lake. In 1995 he won the Indianapolis 500 on the way to first place in the championship.
Jacques' career went into a decline following his 1997 World Championship. Remaining with Williams in 1998, the team struggled with the underpowered Supertec engine and failed to win a race. Jacques left the team at the end of the season to join British American Racing(BAR), founded by and partly owned by manager Craig Pollock. Villeneuve remained at BAR for the next 5 years, but only managed a handful of 3rd place results. Jacques was replaced for the final race in 2003 by Takuma Sato.
When not racing, Jacques Villeneuve lives in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland.
He has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.