Alesi Jean Alesi, 1995 San Marino Grand Prix Alesi

Full Name: Giovanni ‘Jean’ Alesi
Nationality: French
Born: 11 June 1964, Avignon (FRA)

First GP: 1989 French Grand Prix
Last GP: 2001 Japanese Grand Prix

Entries: 202 Grands Prix: 201 Non-starts: 1
Wins: 1 Podiums: 32 Pole Positions: 2
Fastest Laps: 4 Points: 241 Retirements: 87

1986 French Formula 3 Championship, Alesi Dallara Alfa, 2 wins, 8 podiums, 2nd overall
1987 French Formula 3 Championship, ORECA Dallara, 6 wins, 1st overall
1988 International Formula 3000, ORECA, 11 races, 1 podium, 10th overall
1989 International Formula 3000, Eddie Jordan Racing, 9 races, 3 wins, 4 podiums, 1st overall
Formula 1, Tyrrell Cosworth V8 018, 8 races, 8 points, 9th overall
1990 Formula 1, Tyrrell Cosworth V8 018 / 019, 16 entries, 15 races, 2 podiums, 13 points, 9th overall
1991 Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari V12 642/2, 5 races, 1 podium 
  Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari V12 643, 11 races, 2 podiums, 21 points, 7th overall
1992 Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari V12 F92A / F92AT, 16 races, 2 podiums, 18 points, 7th overall
1993 Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari V12 F93A, 16 races, 2 podiums, 16 points, 6th overall
1994 Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari V12 412T1 / 412T1B, 14 races, 4 podiums, 24 points, 5th overall
1995 Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari V12 412T2, 17 races, 1 win, 5 podiums, 42 points, 5th overall
1996 Formula 1, Benetton Renault V10 B196, 16 races, 8 podiums, 47 points, 4th overall
1997 Formula 1, Benetton Renault V10 B197, 17 races, 5 podiums, 36 points, 4th overall
1998 Formula 1, Sauber Petronas V10 C17, 16 races, 1 podium, 9 points, 11th overall
1999 Formula 1, Sauber Petronas V10 C18, 16 races, 2 points, 16th overall
2000 Formula 1, Prost Peugeot V10 AP03, 17 races, 0 points, Not Classified
2001 Formula 1, Prost ACER V10 AP04, 12 races, 4 points, 15th overall
  Formula 1, Jordan Honda V10 EJ11, 5 races, 1 point
2002 DTM, HWA AMG Mercedes CLK DTM, 10 races, 1 win, 2 podiums, 5th overall
2003 DTM, HWA AMG Mercedes CLK 2003, 10 races, 2 wins, 5th overall
2004 DTM, HWA AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 2004, 11 races, 1 podium, 7th overall
2005 DTM, HWA AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 2005, 11 races, 1 win, 7th overall
2006 DTM, Persson Motorsport AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 2005, 10 races, 9th overall
2008 Speedcar Series, 2 wins, 4th overall
2009 Speedcar Series, 2 wins, 5th overall
2010 24 Hours of Le Mans (GT2 Class), AF Corse Ferrari F430, 4th in class with Vilander & Fisichella
2012 IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500, Fan Force United Lotus, Black-flagged

Jean Alesi

That the exceptionally popular and mercurial French-Sicilian ended his 201-Grand Prix career with just a single race win does scant justice to the amazing flair and talent this man possessed behind the wheel.

That one, long-overdue victory came on his 31st birthday, at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, where he benefited from the misfortune of others to claim an emotion-charged and extremely popular victory. Fittingly, he was driving the famous #27 Ferrari, a car made all the more iconic given it too was piloted by Canada’s late favourite son, Gilles Villeneuve.

Like the Canadian, Alesi was a showman: a mercurial, exciting and aggressive racer. He shot to prominence with some outstanding performances in a self-entered Dallara in the French Formula 3 championship, finishing runner-up in 1986. The following year, he joined the crack ORECA team, guiding it to its fifth successive title with six consecutive wins.

He stayed with the team into the Formula 3000 arena, but his career appeared to stall as he became increasingly disenchanted – not for the last time in his career – with how things were panning out. He finished a disappointing tenth overall…

A lifeline was offered by Eddie Jordan, and the gleeful Alesi slotted straight into the smaller outfit, romping to an unassailable lead in the championship race at two-thirds distance. He won the title despite being absent for the final rounds – by that point he’d made a sensational Formula 1 debut.

That opportunity came when Michele Alboreto fell out with Tyrrell and a vacancy appeared for the French Grand Prix. With next to no testing, Alesi promptly outperformed his established teammate Jonathan Palmer and finished fourth on debut, running as high as second midway through the race.

Offered a full-time drive for the 1990 season, more strong results followed: famously battling for the lead with Ayrton Senna at Phoenix, and harrying Senna over the finish line at Monazo were two standouts.

Ferrari and Williams both moved in with big-dollar offers on the cards. Alesi initially signed with Williams, but the lure of joining the Prancing Horse as Alain Prost’s teammate proved too much…

While Williams sailed on to become the dominant team of the 1990s, Ferrari lurched from disaster to disaster, and poor Alesi’s promise was time and time again undone by the struggles of the cars, or internal politicking at the Maranello team.

That first – and only – win finally came his way in 1995, but by then he was on the outer: Ferrari signed Michael Schumacher from Benetton, and Alesi took up the German’s vacant seat for the 1996 season.

It was an unhappy two years spent at Benetton, with the team quickly realising that he wasn’t the calibre of its departed driver, and so he moved further down the grid to Sauber. Bar a fluke podium at the wet 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, it was two seasons of frustration: Alesi’s with the team’s competitiveness, and the team with his constant histrionics.

In 2000, he reunited with his old teammate Prost to lead the Frenchman’s eponymous team. But hopes of a resurgence were sadly mistaken, with the Guynacourt squad producing an appalling car: Jean went scoreless for the first time in his career.

He plugged away for another year with Les Bleus, but quit after the German Grand Prix to see out the final races of his career with the team run by the man who made it all possible in the first place: Eddie Jordan.

With the curtain brought down on his F1 career, Jean headed to the DTM championship as Mercedes’ high-profile signing. He claimed four wins in five mixed years of tin-top racing, and used his connections to front a bid for a Mercedes-Benz ‘B’ team in F1 in 2005, which stalled in the final stages.

In more recent years, Alesi has competed in the short-lived Speedcar Series, as well as fronting Group Lotus’ increased motorsport presence as a brand ambassador. This included an embarrassing tilt at the 2012 Indianapolis 500 in a Lotus-powered entry: he scraped onto the grid as the slowest qualifier, and was black-flagged after ten laps of racing for being too slow…

In 2013, Jean sensibly cut his ties with Lotus and has joined forces with Pirelli – on whose tyres he so famously performed at the start of his F1 career – to be its brand ambassador.

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