(Motorsport-Total.com) – Jean Alesi was once considered one of the greatest talents in Formula 1. Nevertheless, the Frenchman managed only one Grand Prix victory in his career between 1989 and 2001. At the. June 11, 1995 the then Ferrari driver triumphed in Canada. After many missed opportunities, it was a highly emotional race for Alesi.
Alesi was in second place when Michael Schumacher, who was in the lead, had a problem twelve laps before the end. The Benetton pilot had to come to the pits and change the steering wheel. He lost more than a minute and Alesi inherited the lead. The Frenchman did not notice anything at first.
“In Montreal, the audience is close to the track,” he told Motorsport-Total.com, revealing that he noticed that the fans in the stands suddenly jumped up. “There was a big screen behind the hairpin. I looked at it but missed the picture, so I didn’t know what had happened,” recalls Alesi.
Even his mechanics would not have had time to update his pit board, which is why it still showed second place. “I kept pushing,” explains Alesi, who only found out one lap that he was now leading the race. “It made me so emotional that I started to cry,” he reveals.
Almost a crash in the first round
“It wasn’t exactly intelligent because I couldn’t control it,” he smiles and reveals: “When I approached Turn 1, I had tears in my eyes and it wasn’t easy to get the right line. I was pissed off myself, but I slowly understood that maybe [endlich] my day was.”
Sunday had already started well for Alesi, who had previously qualified in fifth place on the grid. He had been the fastest in the morning warm-up – but in the wet. He had a “very good feeling for the car” on the rain tires. “I dreamed of a rain race, but it wasn’t,” he reveals.
“We started on slicks, but the track was not 100 percent dry and very slippery,” said Alesi about the conditions at the start, which almost would have been his doom in the first lap. When he overtook his teammate Gerhard Berger, David Coulthard turned in the Williams immediately in front of the two.
Fortunately, the two Ferrari drivers were able to avoid a crash, and it was doubly important to Alesi that he passed Berger right at the start of the race. “We had a very tight calculation for fuel,” he reveals and adds: “We had the option of making two stops, but then decided on one.”
Schumacher plays taxi for Alesi
“The rule in the team was that the driver who was in front was allowed to stop first. That was my luck, because I caught the right moment to refuel,” said Alesi. Berger, who was there a lap later, ran out of gas on the way to the pits. He rolled back and lost a lot of time. He later retired after a collision.
Alesi himself later showed how tightly Ferrari had calculated for petrol. After crossing the finish line he ran out of fuel and did not make it back to the pits after the end of the race. “It was incredible because when I stopped in the hairpin, the audience called my name,” recalls the then Ferrari driver.
Ironically, Schumacher, from whose problem Alesi had benefited, then played taxi for the winner and brought him back to the pits. The future world champion, who finished fifth in the race, was not angry with him, Alesi recalls. “He was also happy [für mich]”reveals the Frenchman.
“I was very lucky to win in Montreal – on the same track on which Gilles Villeneuve won his first race,” said Alesi, for whom everything fit that day. He won the race with Villeneuve’s number 27, and to make matters worse, he also celebrated his birthday on June 11th.
Victory in Montreal as a reconciliation
What nobody knew at the time: Alesis’ only Formula 1 victory was to remain. “This result was simply the confirmation after a hard time I had in Formula 1,” explains the 55-year-old, who was never able to fully meet the high expectations at the beginning of his career. “I was fighting for a victory right from my first race,” he recalls.
In the middle of the 1989 season, Alesi drove his first Formula 1 race for Tyrrell and was fourth in his home race in France when he made his first appearance in the premier class. “The following season I drove for the team for a whole season and fought with Ayrton Senna [beim Auftakt in Phoenix] for first place, “he recalls.
Alesi has been on the podium a total of 32 times in his Formula 1 career. But often he lacked the luck he had for a change in Canada in 1995. “In my career, it was sometimes a little frustrating to fail due to mechanical problems or that something didn’t work properly,” he explains.
“That was difficult for me. That is why the win in Montreal freed my head,” said Alesi, who moved to Benetton for the 1996 season and won 13 podium finishes there in two years, finishing fourth in the world championship – the best finish of his Formula 1 -Career. Until the end of 2001, he later drove for Sauber, Prost and Jordan in the premier class.
He never got another chance to win in the last years of his career.