Jean Alesi has revealed he is quitting the DTM at the end of the year as he becomes increasingly frustrated with his dwindling role in the Mercedes squad, although he is adamant that retirement is not yet on the cards.
Alesi made a high-profile move to the German touring car series in 2002 when he retired from Formula One a season earlier, but the Frenchman has somewhat failed to flourish at Mercedes, claiming a best championship result of fifth in 2003, with five wins to his name as he contests his fifth season.
Indeed, Alesi was demoted to a year-old C-Class for 2006, run by Persson Motorsport, and although he has proved the quickest of the year-old competitors by scoring in all but one race this season, he has called time on his participation in the series.
However, Alesi has suggested to his personal website that his career, which included one Formula One win back in 1995, is not over and that he has made plans for 2007, something he claims he will reveal imminently.
“I will end my participation in the DTM championship at the end of the year. Not it is not bad news. I will indeed be present in competition next year. I will tell you a little more about my program in the days to come. A little patience and a big thank you for all for all your support.”
Alesi had earlier confirmed to Eurosport.com
of his disappointment at being ousted from a works AMG Mercedes squad for 2006, claiming his lack of testing means he cannot progress with the team any further.
"The truth? In my Persson team I race with a one-year-old Mercedes. I don't think that's a nice thing. I feel neglected. In fact, I'm completely certain I'm being neglected. Do you know how much I've tested in five years? Three days. Three days in five years.
"Mercedes goes testing, a lot, but with the other drivers. I must be content with just getting in the car - an old one, I repeat - only on race weekends and without being able to work on it, without being able to adapt it to my characteristics on a certain track.
"I want to avoid kicking up a stink and to make useless confusion, so I'll calmly carry out my responsibilities, also because I don't want to spit over the hand that has fed me for five years.
"From this point of view Mercedes has behaved very well, but it's time to change. At the end of this year I'm out. I'm leaving the DTM."