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Jean Alesi
Jean Alesi 2001.jpg
Nationality France French
Formula One World Championship career
Active years 19892001
Teams Tyrrell, Ferrari, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan
Races 202 (201 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 1
Podiums 32
Career points 241
Pole positions 2
Fastest laps 4
First race 1989 French Grand Prix
First win 1995 Canadian Grand Prix
Last win 1995 Canadian Grand Prix
Last race 2001 Japanese Grand Prix

Jean Alesi (born Giovanni Alesi; June 11, 1964) is a French racing driver of Italian origins. His Formula One career included spells at Tyrrell, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan and most notably Ferrari where he proved very popular among the tifosi.

Contents

Early career

Alesi was born to Sicilian parents in Avignon, Vaucluse. Starting his career with a passion for rallying rather than racing, he graduated to single seaters through the French Renault 5 championship. In the late 1980s he was very much a coming man in motor racing, winning the 1987 French Formula 3 title before moving up to International Formula 3000 in 1988. In 1989, his second season in International F3000, he won the championship. Both crowns were after duels with his rival Érik Comas. In 1989 Alesi tied on points for the F3000 title with Comas but won the titled based on the fact Alesi had three wins to Comas' two.

Formula One

Alesi at the 1991 US GP.

Alesi debuted in the 1989 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard in a Tyrrell-Cosworth, finishing fourth. He drove most of the rest of the season for Tyrrell while continuing his successful Formula 3000 campaign, (occasionally giving the car up in favour of Johnny Herbert when Formula 3000 clashed), scoring points again at the Italian and Spanish Grands Prix.

1990 was his first full year in Grand Prix racing, with the underfunded Tyrrell team. At the first event, the United States Grand Prix at Phoenix, he was a sensation, leading for 25 laps in front of Ayrton Senna with a car considered as inferior, and also re-passing Senna after the Brazilian had first overtaken for the lead. Second place in the Monaco Grand Prix followed the second place gained in Phoenix, and by mid-season, top teams were clamouring for his services in 1991. A very confused situation erupted, with Tyrrell, Williams, and Ferrari all claiming to have signed the driver within a very short period.

Jean Alesi took his only Grand Prix win at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Ferrari were championship contenders at the time, and there he would be driving with fellow countryman Alain Prost, at that time the most successful driver in Formula One history. Alesi signed with Ferrari, making the choice that not only appeared to maximize his chances for winning the championship and for learning from an experienced and successful teammate, but that fulfilled his childhood dream of driving for the Italian team.

Alesi driving for Sauber at the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix.
Alesi driving for Prost at the 2001 French Grand Prix.

Ferrari, however, experienced a disastrous downturn in form in 1991, while the Williams team experienced a resurgence which would lead them to win five constructor's titles between 1992 and 1997, thus becoming the most successful team of the 1990s. Alesi's choice of Ferrari over Williams seemed the most logical at the time, but turned out to be very unfortunate. One of the reasons for this failure was because Ferrari's famous V12 engine was no longer competitive against the smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient V10s of their competitors. Having a dismal 1991 season, Prost left the team describing the car as a "truck" and took a sabbatical.

In five years at the Italian marque Alesi gained little, except the passionate devotion of the tifosi, who loved his aggressive style. That style, and his use of the number 27 on his car, led many to associate him with Gilles Villeneuve, a beloved and still-popular Ferrari driver from 1977-1982. Alesi and teammate Gerhard Berger won only one race each at Ferrari.

When Benetton's Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, Alesi and teammate Gerhard Berger swapped places with him. Though Benetton was the defending constructors' champions, they were about to experience a lull in form like Ferrari in 1991. Schumacher went on to rejuvenate Ferrari, while Alesi and Berger spent two seasons at a declining Benetton riddled with bad luck and internal politics. While Berger had a reasonable run at Benetton, winning the 1997 German Grand Prix after having come two laps from victory at the same race the previous year when his engine blew while he was leading within sight of the flag, Alesi's Benetton career proved more turbulent, not helped by an embarrassing retirement in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in 1997 when he ignored several radio messages from the pit mechanics to come in for his pit stop, and continued for five laps until running out of fuel. His form became increasingly erratic that season, including incidents at the French Grand Prix when he needlessly pushed David Coulthard off the track, and the Austrian Grand Prix, where his attempt to outbrake Eddie Irvine from nearly eight lengths behind caused a spectacular collision that saw Alesi placed under investigation for dangerous driving after the race. A pole position and eventual second place at the Italian Grand Prix were not enough to salvage his drive at Benetton, and the team released Alesi at the end of the 1997 season.

Alesi moved on, initially to Sauber and later Prost, the latter which was owned by his former Ferrari teammate Alain Prost. With Prost, Alesi was consistent, finishing every race, occasionally in points scoring positions, his best finish being at Canada. A fallout after the British Grand Prix, however saw Alesi walk out after the German Grand Prix, where he scored a point.

Alesi ended his open-wheel career in 2001 with Jordan, bookending his career nicely: Alesi had driven for Jordan in Formula 3000 when he won the championship in 1989.

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Legacy

Alesi was often regarded as flamboyant, emotional and aggressive, but after his spectacular performance at Phoenix in 1990, his career was notable more for its "bad luck" and longevity than for its final results. In 2001, he became only the fifth driver to start 200 Grand Prix races, and he achieved thirty-two podiums, yet he only gained one victory. It could be suggested that Alesi's potential was unfulfilled - some say he spent his peak years during the uncompetitive period at Ferrari - retiring while in the lead or in 2nd place in no less than 9 races (1991: Spain (10 seconds stop penalty and still finishing 23 seconds behind the winner) and Belgium (1st), 1994: Belgium (2nd) and Italy (1st), 1995: Spain, Monaco, Japan (all in 2nd place), Belgium and Italy (both in 1st) - but somehow he was unlucky when driving for Benetton too, losing the lead of the Italian GP both in 1996 and 1997 after relatively slow pitstops and Monaco 1996 retiring with suspension failure.

His sole win was an emotional triumph at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on his 31st birthday. Although he had inherited the lead when Michael Schumacher pitted with electrical problems and Damon Hill's hydraulics prevented a challenge, the victory was a popular one, particularly after several excellent but ultimately unrewarded drives for years at Ferrari, notably in Italy. Alesi's win at Montreal was voted the most popular race victory of the season by many, as it was the scarlet red number 27 Ferrari - once belonging to the famous Gilles Villeneuve at his much loved home Grand Prix. Memorably, Schumacher gave Alesi a lift back to the pits after Alesi's car ran out of fuel just before the Pits Hairpin.

Alesi would never win another Formula One Grand Prix, although later in 1995 at Monza his right-rear wheel bearing failed while he was leading with 9 laps to go, then at the Nürburgring severely worn tyres broke his defence of the lead with two laps remaining and he was passed by Michael Schumacher. In 1996 suspension failure with ten laps left prevented him from taking victory at Monaco (although he had led this race only after Damon Hill, who had held a commanding lead for the first half of the race, was forced to retire on lap 40 when his Williams Renault engine blew up in the Tunnel) while in 1997 he led the Italian Grand Prix from pole before relinquishing the lead to David Coulthard courtesy of a slow pit stop in the closing stages of the race.

Post-Formula One career

Alesi driving for Mercedes-Benz (Persson Motorsport) in the 2006 DTM season.

After Formula One, Alesi was a popular and successful driver in the DTM (German Touring Car Championship), where he placed fifth in the 2002 championship for Mercedes with one victory. He repeated this in 2003 but this time scoring two victories. In 2004 he finished seventh in the championship scoring no victories. In 2005 he won the opening race and went on to take seventh place in the standings once more. He retired from the DTM after finishing the 2006 season in 9th place.

Alesi joined a number of other ex-Formula One drivers (Christian Danner, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, Ukyo Katayama, JJ Lehto, Gianni Morbidelli, Jacques Villeneuve and Alex Yoong) in the inaugural season of the Far & Middle Eastern Speedcar Series. He won two races and finished 4th in the championship. He finished fifth in the second and last season of Speedcar Series after taking two wins in 2009.

Alesi is a wine connoisseur and has a vineyard near his hometown of Avignon, where he resides with his wife, Japanese model, actress, and pop singer Kumiko Goto (後藤久美子), and their four children.

Occasionally, he appears on F1 programs on Italian state television as a guest.

Alesi also appeared on the Mercedes Benz International Website, promoting the all new 2010 E-class.

On October 13, 2009, Alesi tested an AF Corse Ferrari F430 GT2 at Maranello, on the same day that Felipe Massa drove an F1 car for the first time after his accident in Hungary earlier in the year. After the test, which lasted just 65 laps, Alesi was enthusiastic and Amato Ferrari talked about Alesi's possible involvement in the 2010 programme.

Early 2010 it was announced that Alesi would be team-mate of another ex-F1 driver, Giancarlo Fisichella, in the Le Mans Series GT2 class.[1]

DTM results

Jean Alesi in his 2006 DTM-Mercedes racecar
  • 2002 - 5th in the championship, 1 victory,
  • 2003 - 5th, 2 victories,
  • 2004 - 7th,
  • 2005 - 7th, 1 victory,
  • 2006 - 9th

Direxiv

Alesi was an active spokesman for the Direxiv team in their bid for entry to the 2008 Formula 1 series. It was planned as a McLaren B Team with backing and engines from Mercedes. However, the proposal was beaten to the final grid place by Prodrive.

Racing record

Complete International Formula 3000 results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine Tyres 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 DC Points
1988 Oreca March 87B Ford Cosworth A JER
11
VAL
9
10th 11
Reynard 88D PAU
2
SIL
5
MNZ
Ret
PER
6
BRH
Ret
BIR
Ret
BUG
Ret
ZOL
9
DIJ
5
1989 Eddie Jordan Racing Reynard 89D Mugen Honda A SIL
4
VAL
Ret
PAU
1
JER
5
PER
Ret
BRH
2
BIR
1
SPA
1
BUG
6
DIJ
1st* 39

* - Alesi won the 1989 title on countback, winning three races to Érik Comas' two.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1989 Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 018 Cosworth V8 BRA
SMR
MON
MEX
USA
CAN
FRA
4
GBR
Ret
GER
10
HUN
9
BEL
ITA
5
POR
ESP
4
JPN
Ret
AUS
Ret
9th 8
1990 Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 018 Cosworth V8 USA
2
BRA
7
9th 13
Tyrrell 019 SMR
6
MON
2
CAN
Ret
MEX
7
FRA
Ret
GBR
8
GER
11
HUN
Ret
BEL
8
ITA
Ret
POR
8
ESP
Ret
JPN
DNS
AUS
8
1991 Scuderia Ferrari SpA Ferrari 642/2 Ferrari V12 USA
12
BRA
6
SMR
Ret
MON
3
CAN
Ret
7th 21
Ferrari 643 MEX
Ret
FRA
4
GBR
Ret
GER
3
HUN
5
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
3
ESP
4
JPN
Ret
AUS
Ret
1992 Scuderia Ferrari SpA Ferrari F92A Ferrari V12 RSA
Ret
MEX
Ret
BRA
4
ESP
3
SMR
Ret
MON
Ret
CAN
3
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
5
HUN
Ret
7th 18
Ferrari F92AT BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
Ret
JPN
5
AUS
4
1993 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari F93A Ferrari V12 RSA
Ret
BRA
8
EUR
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
Ret
MON
3
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
9
GER
7
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
2
POR
4
JPN
Ret
AUS
4
6th 16
1994 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 412T1 Ferrari V12 BRA
3
PAC
SMR
MON
5
ESP
4
CAN
3
5th 24
Ferrari 412T1B FRA
Ret
GBR
2
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
Ret
EUR
10
JPN
3
AUS
6
1995 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 412T2 Ferrari V12 BRA
5
ARG
2
SMR
2
ESP
Ret
MON
Ret
CAN
1
FRA
5
GBR
2
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
5
EUR
2
PAC
5
JPN
Ret
AUS
Ret
5th 42
1996 Mild Seven Benetton Renault Benetton B196 Renault V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
2
ARG
3
EUR
Ret
SMR
6
MON
Ret
ESP
2
CAN
3
FRA
3
GBR
Ret
GER
2
HUN
3
BEL
4
ITA
2
POR
4
JPN
Ret
4th 47
1997 Mild Seven Benetton Renault Benetton B197 Renault V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
6
ARG
7
SMR
5
MON
Ret
ESP
3
CAN
2
FRA
5
GBR
2
GER
6
HUN
11
BEL
8
ITA
2
AUT
Ret
LUX
2
JPN
5
EUR
13
4th 36
1998 Red Bull Sauber Petronas Sauber C17 Petronas V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
9
ARG
5
SMR
6
ESP
10
MON
12
CAN
Ret
FRA
7
GBR
Ret
AUT
Ret
GER
10
HUN
7
BEL
3
ITA
5
LUX
10
JPN
7
11th 9
1999 Red Bull Sauber Petronas Sauber C18 Petronas V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
6
MON
Ret
ESP
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
14
AUT
Ret
GER
8
HUN
16
BEL
9
ITA
9
EUR
Ret
MAL
7
JPN
6
16th 2
2000 Gauloises Prost Peugeot Prost AP03 Peugeot V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
Ret
GBR
10
ESP
Ret
EUR
9
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
14
AUT
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
12
USA
Ret
JPN
Ret
MAL
11
22nd 0
2001 Prost Acer Prost AP04 Acer V10 AUS
9
MAL
9
BRA
7
SMR
9
ESP
10
AUT
10
MON
6
CAN
5
EUR
15
FRA
12
GBR
11
GER
6
15th 5
B&H Jordan Honda Jordan EJ11 Honda V10 HUN
10
BEL
6
ITA
8
USA
7
JPN
Ret

Trivia

References

  1. ^ GP update.net - Fisichella joins Ferrari Le Mans team Retrieved 3rd of February 2010

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Yannick Dalmas
French Formula Three
Champion

1987
Succeeded by
Érik Comas
Preceded by
Roberto Moreno
International Formula 3000 Champion
1989
Succeeded by
Érik Comas
Preceded by
Cristiano da Matta
Fonsi Nieto
Gilles Panizzi
Race of Champions
Nations' Cup

2004 with:
Sébastien Loeb
Succeeded by
Mattias Ekström
Tom Kristensen
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Ayrton Senna
Autosport
International Racing Driver Award

1989
Succeeded by
Ayrton Senna


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