Jean Alesi knows what it is like to win – even if he only managed it once at the very top level of Formula 1, at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix. This morning he discovered a brand new level of racing joy as he watched son Giuliano take his first GP3 victory, leading from lights to flag in the sprint race at Silverstone.
Yet when I spoke to Alesi senior earlier this weekend I discovered he is far from your archetypal ‘racing Dad’. Compared with his contemporary Jos Verstappen, who had Max racing in karts before the age of 5, the Alesi family was more easy-going and Giuliano made a very late start to his competitive action…
“Giuliano only did two years of karting because he only started when he was 13,” said Alesi. “He then had one year of Formula Ford and GP3 starting last year. Now he’s 17 so I think he’s still playing catch-up with a lot of his fellow competitors who started racing at a much younger age. Even so, I’m not like some former racers who wish their sons would do something different. I’m happy because he’s doing it.”
Of course hailing from such a racing lineage does help, not least in getting on the fast track to recognition with the sport’s big players. Giuliano is now in the Ferrari Driver Academy which has also nurtured 2017’s runaway F2 championship leader Charles Leclerc plus current F1 drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
“At this young age it’s very important to have confidence between Giuliano and the people working with him,” adds Alesi. “For the physical training and the driving itself he is in very good surroundings with the Ferrari Driver Academy. With video and telemetry there are now so many ways to check what the other drivers are doing and how he compares. At this point that’s more important than talking to me.
“We have a very good relationship and of course I have the experience, but the only close talks we have are about how I was feeling at his age, when I was in Formula Renault and F3. The main thing we talk about is the mental side: the attitude, the approach, the way to prepare a weekend before you even get to a track.”
Another of the Ferrari Driver Academy’s graduates was the late Jules Bianchi, which begs the question of how it really feels for Jean Alesi to watch his son in action. Yet as an ex-racer safety is not his primary concern…
“It is very hard to watch Giuliano race,” he admits. “But I’m not worried about anything other than his performance. Of course I want the best for him and when I see his position is not what he should be, I am suffering…”
But – as the champagne dries into Giuliano Alesi's race-winning overalls – not on a day like today…
Clyde Brolin spent over a decade working in F1 before moving on to the wider world of sport - all in a bid to discover the untapped power of the human mind.