One of the biggest news stories around GP3 over the Hungarian weekend was the appearance of Alesi in Formula 1 qualifying. But we’re not actually talking about Giuliano Alesi: a four-time race winner with Trident, who currently sits sixth in the GP3 standings.
Instead, we’re talking about his famous father Jean Alesi, a former grand prix driver for Ferrari and Benetton, among others.
Alesi appeared at the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying session to present the Pirelli Pole Position Award: an initiative introduced by the Italian tyre firm this season to reward the driver who sets pole position at every race. It takes the form of a replica wind tunnel tyre, which serves a very serious purpose as well as being an object of art. The wind tunnel tyres are given to teams for modelling purposes during the season, so that they can design their new cars around the exact shape of the latest tyres.
The Pole Position Award tyre given out at the end of every qualifying session is engraved with the name of the grand prix and signed by the driver on pole. Both Pirelli top management and a variety of driving stars have presented the award on Saturday afternoons so far, ranging from two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz to teen inspiration Billy Monger. Now Jean Alesi – one of the most-loved drivers in the history of Formula 1 – joins the list.
He handed it over to Lewis Hamilton: the first driver to amass five Pirelli Pole Position tyres this season. The tyre is always a replica of the softest compound available for each race that usually sets the pole time, so – also for the first time this season – the tyre was out of sync, as it was the full wet that was used to obtain pole, after a monsoon-like qualifying.
Alesi, the author of two pole positions throughout his illustrious career, was delighted to present the pole tyre to Hamilton, who was honoured to receive it.
The following day Hamilton scored a sensational win. Alesi’s own best result in Hungary was third in 1996 – the year in which he achieved his best-ever championship placing of fourth. But Alesi’s career wasn’t just about the raw results: it was more about the fearless way he did it. He shot to fame in the 1990s, famously harrying Ayrton Senna with a mere Tyrrell, and the French Sicilian’s star has never waned since.
Best of all, the family legacy still lives on. Now that we’ve had an Alesi presenting the Pirelli Pole Position award in Formula 1, how long will it be before one receives it?