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SEPTEMBER 17, 2001

Alesi says Briatore is "obscene"

JEAN ALESI has launched a withering attack on Flavio Briatore for the role he played in stopping the drivers from observing a no overtaking agreement in the first two chicanes at Monza on Sunday. The drivers wanted to make sure that there were no major accidents after a week of international disasters and the day after Alex Zanardi's horrible crash at the Lausitzring.

Alesi told Italian reporters that Briatore threatened Giancarlo Fisichella to make him race and called the move "obscene".

Michael Schumacher claimed that all but one driver wanted to abide by the non-overtaking deal but Jacques Villeneuve refused to join in and as a result the idea has to be scrapped. Several other drivers said that they would be happy to race but Michael Schumacher, Alesi, Fisichella, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Eddie Irvine, Pedro de la Rosa, Rubens Barrichello and others wanted to play safe because of the dangers involved and the fact that they did not want there to be any bad publicity for F1 in what had already been a dismal week.

Many of the drivers were upset that team bosses forced their drivers to race.

Villeneuve - and many in the paddock - argued that a race track is no place for such deals.

"We signed contracts before the season," he told Britain's ITV. "Everyone was happy to be a race car driver and to earn millions of dollars. I am a racer at heart and all my life I grew up dreaming of being a race car driver and that's what I am. The day I don't feel like that anymore I won't stay in it just to make money, I will just quit."