Jean Alesi: Beating The Odds Jean Alesi: Beating The Odds, by Christopher Hilton
Paperback, © 1996 PSL, ISBN 9781852605476

One of the most exciting and flamboyant drivers to have graced the F1 grid since the late Gilles Villeneuve, Jean Alesi captured the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. To put it simply, he was a pure racer, through and through.

Yet it astounded many that, having made a storming debut with Tyrrell in 1989, he remained winless after nearly 100 starts, despite his unbridled talent behind the wheel. Finally, that came right at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix…

Christopher Hilton’s biography charts the rise of this mercurial French-Sicilian, from the early days of his family emigrating to France and the blue-eyed racer’s first forays into competitive driving, in (of all things) a Renault 5.

His exploits in the lower categories – particularly Formula 3000 – had him marked as a talent to watch, and when he made his F1 debut with the Tyrrell team on home soil in 1989, where he finished in the points, the rest of the grid sat up and took notice.

Jean Alesi, 1995 Signed by Ferrari for 1991, he remained there until 1995, ever unlucky as potential wins were snatched from his grasp and his equipment repeatedly let him down.

That breakthrough win came in 1995 at Canada, fittingly the circuit named in Gilles Villeneuve’s honour, and Alesi claimed the ultimate birthday present piloting the #27 Ferrari, its number made so iconic by the late Canadian driver.

Despite the romance that is attached to Alesi’s F1 career, Hilton can’t quite capture that in this biography, which concludes with Alesi’s signing to Benetton, which would be the start of a steady decline in the French-Sicilian’s career, leading to his eventual retirement in 2001.

Beating The Odds is a rather repetitive affair, particularly when examining his years with Ferrari, but it remains a solid and thorough examination of Alesi’s motorsport career to that point.

Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Jean Alesi: Beating The Odds


Jean Alesi: Beating The Odds is available at specialist bookstores and Amazon.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.