FEBRUARY 2, 2023

Alesi is new Paul Ricard President

Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi has been appointed President of the Circuit Paul Ricard.

Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi has been appointed President of the Circuit Paul Ricard.

Alesi, replacing Eric Bouiller at the helm of the track that most recently hosted the French Grand Prix, after the company created to run the event was disbanded, its existence losing any purpose as soon as it was clear there would be no Grand Prix in France for the coming years.

The announcement was made by the French Federation for Motor Sports and added that Alesi will be working in close collaboration with Stéphane Clair, who remains the circuit’s General Manager, a role he has been fulfilling since 2011. Alesi, of course, has a long history linking him to the Circuit Paul Ricard, as he was runner-up to Eric Bernard in the famous Winfield Race Scholarship back in 1983 and got support from the circuit to race in the 1984 French Formula Renault championship.

It was also in the Paul Ricard that Alesi made his famous debut in Formula One, when he replaced Michele Alboreto at Tyrrell midway through the season and surprised everyone by finishing his first Grand Prix in second place, back in 1989, so it was not a surprise that the veteran of 201 Grand Prix starts is delighted with his appointment: “I’m very happy and honored with this appointment, because this circuit is my life in motor racing, it’s where I grew up as a driver. I’ve seen the circuit is very well structured and has a fulltime working team that I’ll be delighted to lead.”

Speaking about his memories of the Paul Ricard, Alesi recalled that, “as a young teen I saw my first Grand Prix here and also attended the winter tests F1 teams used to carry here. It was very interesting to be able to be in the pits during testing and listen to what the likes of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna said to their teams - that’s a memory I’ll carry for life.

Of course, it was in the Paul Ricard I made my Formula One debut, when I had signed to do just one Grand Prix and ended up doing another 200 Grand Prix after that, so I cannot wait to start working in my new role.”

Only time will tell if Alesi’s contacts and very good personal relationship with Stefano Domenicali will help the Paul Ricard get back into the Formula One World Championship calendar for even though a lot will depend in the investment the local authorities and the local businesses will be willing to make, it’s clear that having a direct line to the Formula 1 CEO can take you to great lengths, as it’s demonstrated by the fact that Imola, with just local support, has secured a Grand Prix until the end of 2024.