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AUGUST 8, 2001

Alesi and Frentzen swap seats

THE worst-kept secret in Formula 1 was revealed today (Wednseday), with the announcement that Jean Alesi will drive for Jordan for the remainder of the season. Somewhat less predictably, however, Heinz-Harald Frentzen has been announced as the French-Sicilian's replacement at Prost Grand Prix.

Eddie Jordan admitted that the current trend was towards signing young drivers, with an eye to molding them into a new generation of Schumacher beaters, but the 37-year-old Alesi - the most experienced man in the field with 196 starts to his name - suits the Jordan cause for the time being.

Speaking on BBC 5 Live, Jordan said: "At the moment, five races to go, we need to be sure to finish fourth in the world championship. Jean's contracted just until the end of the season to see how we both work together because it's becoming more and more difficult, the pressures are enormous on everybody, Jean is not getting younger of course, and Jordan are getting impatient. We want to make sure that we can get back winning races again."

Jean Alesi put out a statement telling of his delight at the chance to string together some points finishes in what may prove to be a swansong to his F1 career. "I am overjoyed by this development in my career. Eddie launched me into Formula 1, so to return to race for him after all this time is something very special. Although I will not be able to test the car before racing in Hungary, I feel so motivated that I don't believe this will be a problem. I am very excited."

Meanwhile in a shock move Heinz-Harald Frentzen becomes the fourth Prost driver of the 2001 season, adding his name to those of Alesi, Gaston Mazzacane and Luciano Burti. "It was very difficult to turn down the opportunity," he said.

Team boss Alain Prost said: "It is essential to preserve our team's serenity in this moment when we are building up Prost Grand Prix and consolidating our strategy for the upcoming years. This is why I chose to release Jean."

"I am delighted to welcome Heinz-Harald Frentzen to our team. His achievements in the in the last few years place him among the best drivers and his large experience with top Formula One teams will be a strong asset for us for the remainder of the 2001 season."