Alesi races in Indy, Vergne pays tribute in Monaco
Frenchman Jean Alesi was one of the most popular drivers in Formula 1, especially here in Monaco. Natural enough given that the Principality is wedged between France and Italy, the two countries that makeup Alesi’s roots. However, while this year’s Monaco Grand Prix is taking place, Alesi will have a race of his own to concentrate on, because this Sunday he makes his first ever appearance behind the wheel in the famous Indianapolis 500. Several months ago, when the news broke that Jean would be trying his hand at the Brickyard, Jean-Eric Vergne promised him he’d be there to witness the event, but that was before Jev found out he was going to be a Formula 1 driver this year and would be a bit busy himself this weekend!
Apart from the fact they are both French, what links our rookie to the French veteran? Well, it’s a long story,involving go-karts, a Sumo wrestler and a new helmet design for this weekend. It all started a long, long time ago, about 15 years in fact, when Jean Alesi, an F1 driver in those days, came to Vergne Senior’s kart track to take part in a Ferrari promotional event that involved a Japanese Sumo wrestler driving a kart thatJean-Eric’s father had built specially to cope with the extra size and weight! In fact, that very same day, Jean-Eric drove a kart for the first time in his life.
From that day on, Alesi kept an eye on the little lad and their paths crossed when Jev joined the team run by the French motor sport federation, a team captained by Alesi. Since then, advice has flowed freely from the older to the younger racer and a friendship developed.Therefore, this weekend, Jean-Eric will wear a special helmet which features a design based on the famous Alesi lid and the plan is to present it to Jean next time they meet up. “I had thought it would be great to go and watch Jean race in Indy, but then came the news I was driving for Toro Rosso and of course that meant a clash with Monaco,” said Jean-Eric. “But I was still determined to do something special to mark Jean’s Indy debut and so we came up with the idea, which is quite common here in Monaco in fact, of me using a special design in tribute to him. I think it looks great and I hope it brings us both good luck this weekend.”