Race of my life: Jean Alesi on the 1995 Japanese Grand Prix

Jean Alesi makes a special guest appearance on the latest episode of Autosport's Race of My Life podcast series, on the anniversary of his 1995 Canadian Grand Prix win, to talk about his choice as the best race of his F1 career - that year's Japanese GP

Race of my life: Jean Alesi on the 1995 Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, October 29 1995

Car: Ferrari 412T2

"In my Formula 1 career there were many races I should have won but didn't, so it's quite correct that one I failed to finish was the race of my life!

"I qualified second to Michael Schumacher and it was raining on race day. Before the start, I went to the race director and said, 'The startline is downhill, and we don't have a handbrake, so how can I avoid a penalty if my car moves?' He said, 'As long as you line up behind the line, even if your car moves a little bit, as long as you don't improve position it's fine.'"

"So, at the start, my car was moving a little and I did not improve my position. And not only did I get a penalty, my team-mate Gerhard Berger did too! I was totally fed up with that decision. So I had to stop for a 10-second stop-go penalty, and dropped to 10th. I did one lap and then got on the radio: 'I want slicks.' Although it was still quite wet, I was passing everyone - I even overtook Johnny Herbert down the inside at 130R on my in-lap before putting on the slicks.

"In my Formula 1 career there were many races I should have won but didn't, so it's quite correct that one I failed to finish was the race of my life!" Jean Alesi

"It wasn't without drama: I had a couple of 360s on the straight! On one lap, Pedro Lamy pushed me onto the grass exiting the chicane. Watch it on YouTube, I had the onboard camera - it's amazing!

"People say that I'm special in the wet, in those conditions with slicks, but all I gave was my maximum. Perhaps it's my driving style that explores the limit of the tyres, and keeps the heat in them more than everyone else. I'm not scared to lose control of the car.

"By lap nine I'd moved up from 15th to ninth, and was lapping five seconds per lap faster than everyone else - including Michael, who was still on wets. A lap later I was sixth. Then I passed Damon Hill around the outside of the chicane."

"By lap 12 I was back in second, just a few seconds behind Michael, who had pitted by now, and I was setting fastest lap after fastest lap. I could almost hear him as he looked in his mirrors: 'What is he doing there? I thought he had a penalty'."

"I was having a great time, but it wasn't to be my day again. The driveshaft broke, and all the oil came out of the differential.

"It had been fun while it lasted."

shares
comments
Opening of new Aston Martin F1 base at Silverstone delayed by a year due to COVID-19
Previous article

Opening of new Aston Martin F1 base at Silverstone delayed by a year due to COVID-19

Next article

'Is It Just Me?' Podcast: Should F1 have a transfer window?

'Is It Just Me?' Podcast: Should F1 have a transfer window?
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022