The 10th episode of F1 Beyond The Grid podcast of 2019 as Jean Alesi speak on his Ferrari career, friendship with three drivers, his sole grand prix win and more.
Alesi starts of the F1 Beyond The Grid podcast by talking about being luck to compete in the 90s era of the sport, which he thinks as the best in terms of freedom whether a race car driver or as an engineer or mechanic.
When asked about his F1 inspiration, there was no doubt in taking the name of Gilles Villeneuve as he compared his love to how Lewis Hamilton shows his for Ayrton Senna. He also states that Hamilton is the best driver on the grid currently.
Alesi also states that F1 drivers are modest even though it doesn’t seem like that. He then talks about taking the F1 route as opposed to rallying which his father Franco did. He recalls the battles with Eric Comas, whom he beat in Formula 3000.
He also discussed racing for Eddie Jordan in the junior level and eventually ending his career at Jordan in F1. In fact, he revealed that it was Jordan who helped him get a F1 seat with Tyrell in 1989 French GP, where he finished a superb fourth.
He even had a fight with Senna in the grand prix. A little later in the podcast, he discussed the 1990 US GP at Phoenix where he again fought the Brazilian but finished second to him in the end. The topic moved to Ferrari, where he raced from 1991.
The drive though didn’t come straightforward as Williams was involved too at that time. Alesi revealed that Nelson Piquet helped him to get the Ferrari seat. He had signed with Williams for 1991, 1992 and 1993 with the announcement to come at 1990 French GP.
It didn’t come as Williams played a political game with the contract. Alesi then got Ferrari involved and signed with them instead after discussing all what happened with Williams. He joined Ferrari in 1991 alongside Alain Prost.
He talks highly of the Frenchman with all the help he provided Alesi in the short amount of period they were together. But his initial years in Ferrari weren’t great as the Italian manufacturer underwent difficult seasons with changes coming often.
They had Niki Lauda in the team with Luca di Montezemolo coming in along with Jean Todt as well but things only started to improve towards the end of his Ferrari stint, where he raced alongside Gerhard Berger, whom he didn’t like at the start.
It was mostly to do with Berger’s contract but Ferrari insisted that nothing is to change between the two drivers. He was even gifted the F92 car by Montezemolo. He then reveals the tales with Berger, who became a dear friend as the two one time wrecked Todt’s car.
Alesi then talked about the 1994 Imola weekend where he wasn’t racing due to an injury. He says the grand prix after that got drivers more vigilant for changes at the track to make it much more safer. They then talk about his first pole at Monza for Ferrari.
He also touched upon his only win in 1995 Canadian GP, where he was already stressed after multiple times that he couldn’t win and so he said that the 25 laps he raced in the lead towards the end was the worst of his life – with the tension in mind.
He also revealed that he did not run out of fuel on his in-lap but he stalled after celebrating it with fans as Michael Schumacher came along to give him a taxi ride. He then talked about Schumacher, who he thinks was successful just because of the trust he built.
He said that Senna impressed him more if pitted against Schumacher but the German remains as a good friend along with Prost and Berger. He wouldn’t put Piquet in the list because he couldn’t spend more time with the Brazilian.
Talking about the teams he raced with as he also had the opportunity to race for Benetton, Prost and Jordan but the stint with Ferrari was the best for him. In fact, the passion for F1 is still alive and he explained that after he got to drive the 2013 Lotus/Renault car.
It wasn’t great for him physically after the run but he could manage a sound sleep recalling the time he had in France for a showrun. He then ended the podcast talking about his son Giuliano, who races in Formula 2 and the current state of F1.