Watching his son put in his first, and perhaps last, laps in a Ferrari F1 car, Jean Alesi was left to rue the state of Formula 1 and the need to be a “billionaire” to race.
Giuliano Alesi said farewell to the Ferrari Driver Academy on Monday as he took part in a test with the Scuderia, driving a three-year-old SF71H at the Fiorano circuit.
It was his Ferrari debut, and also likely be his very last laps in a Ferrari F1 car.
The 21-year-old is heading to Japan this season, walking away from Formula 2 after failing to come up with the finances needed to secure a drive.
It is, his father feels, a damning indictment on today’s path to Formula 1.
“He will race almost every weekend [in Japan], which is not possible in Europe anymore unless you pay a lot of money,” Grandpx.news quotes Alesi Snr told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Nowadays you have to be a billionaire and buy a team, otherwise you will not end up in the Formula 1 world.
“The seats are blocked by the drivers of Vasseur and Wolff.
“Fortunately there is Ferrari, who supply engines to some F1 teams so they can also supply drivers.
“Mick Schumacher got his seat in Formula 1 also with his Formula 2 title, but without the support of Maranello it would not have been possible.”
Giuliano Alesi kicked off a week of testing for Ferrari at Fiorano in the SF71H.
Marcus Armstrong, Robert Shwartzman, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott will all be in action.
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) January 25, 2021
Last year Alesi sold his Ferrari F40 in order to finance his son F2 career.
He reiterated that opinion to Motorsport.com.
“If you look in our part of the world in Europe, nothing is a meritocracy,” he said. “You just need to pay and pay and pay.
“I think that’s crazy, it’s the only sport in the world where you have to pay to make your show. I think in Japan it seems much more fair.”
Alesi Snr was on hand to watch his son’s laps at the Ferrari test track with the Giuliano putting the number ’28’ on his car.
That was the number his father ran in his inaugural season at Ferrari in 1991.
“It came as a surprise to me, I cannot believe he looked into the details like that,” Alesi Snr said.
“I believe I first tested in November 1990, the 15th my fan club tells me, so it is amazing to think that he drove the car with my number 30 years later.
“It was great to see him in a Ferrari – a lot of emotions for me! – but also a feeling of responsibility of not making a mistake as he was the first one to go out and everything was very cold, and others were to drive the car.
“It was not easy for him, but everything went fantastically well, and I felt good for him.”