Popular French-Sicilian driver Jean Alesi, a veteran of 200 Grands Prix, will retire from Formula One after this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. He’s been in F1 for nearly 12 years.
Popular French-Sicilian driver Jean Alesi, a veteran of 200 Grands Prix, will retire from Formula One after this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. He’s been in Formula One for nearly 12 years.
The Jordan driver confirmed that he will be retiring from Formula One after the Silverstone-based team failed to renew his contract for 2002 and signed Japan’s Takuma Sato, the 2001 British Formula Three champion, instead. However, Alesi, who has one victory to his credit in 200 starts since 1989, is currently unsure about what his future will be.
"I will retire," the 37-year-old Frenchman told a news conference on Wednesday. "I will not race next year, but for the moment it is not completely clear what I would do. I will not drive Formula One any more."
In a surprise announcement, Alesi said the Suzuka event would be his last F1 race. Earlier in the day, team boss Eddie Jordan said he had signed Sato to partner Giancarlo Fisichella next year, but indicated that he was seeking to retain Alesi "in a role yet to be defined".
Alesi, the 1987 French F3 champion, who has also competed in F1 for Tyrrell, Ferrari, Benetton and Sauber, quit the Prost team earlier this season. He has since scored two hard-earned grand prix points in his four races with Jordan.
Team boss Eddie Jordan was surprised at what Alesi had to say. "What Jean just has said is news to me. Jean and I went together in Formula 3000, which was the reason why I am in Formula One," he said. Jordan thanked Alesi for showing "courage and commitment to move forward. If he hadn’t done that, I don’t think I would be here."
Alesi’s renowned quick temper, daring driving antics and sheer talent have made him a highly popular figure in Formula One, even though he scored only one grand prix victory – in Canada during 1995. In a recent poll on CARtoday.com, 70 per cent of respondents who were asked whether Alesi, Sato or Justin Wilson should get the Jordan drive, said that the French Sicilian should retain his place.