Jean Alesi has officially confirmed that the season finale of the 2006 DTM Championship at Hockenheim has been his last in the series, although at the same time the Frenchman dismissed that he is about to retire.
Alesi moved to the championship in 2002 after concluding an eleven-year career in Formula One, moving straight to the front running AMG Mercedes squad and although he only managed four wins in 51 races, he nonetheless became known as a master of consistency after scoring in 30 of those races.
However, the Frenchman has made no secret of his desire to move on having become disillusioned of his role within Mercedes, a matter that came to a head this season when he was dropped from the works Mercedes team in favour of Bruno Spengler, being demoted to a year-old C-Class run by Persson Motorsport.
Although he has since gone on the be the highest-scoring of the 2005-specification machines this season, it is unlikely Alesi will be able to find a way back into the front line of the Mercedes offensive and as a result has called time on his participation to move onto other things.
”I would like to say thank you to Mercedes-Benz for the opportunity they have given me to be part of the DTM during the five exciting years we have been working together. In those years I have made many friends there and even after I will have stopped racing in the DTM I will consider myself to be part of the Mercedes family.
“This was a chapter of my career that I always will remember in a positive way. The DTM and their approach to their public is one of a kind and in its style second to none, which I always liked and admired very much.”
Vice-President for Mercedes Motorsport, Norbert Haug, admits he will miss Alesi and thanked him for helping the team to their titles.
“Jean was a vital part of our DTM campaigns for the last five years. It was very special to have a driver of Jean's calibre with such an impressive Formula One pedigree in our ranks. Jean brought excitement into DTM and not only by throwing his helmet into the spectators after having finished here in Hockenheim on the podium on his first ever outing.
“Jean will remain closely connected to the Mercedes-Benz brand, and he certainly will stay a friend. We all wish him all the best for his future, and we will miss him and his flamboyant and likeable style as much as the DTM fans will do.”
Although at 42-years-old Alesi is not in the first flush of youth, he has nonetheless denied that he will be hanging up his helmet, even if he has not revealed what is next in his plans. Favourite for his services though are Peugeot, who are thought to be chasing him to be involved in their forthcoming attack on the Le Mans 24Hours later this year with their 908 HDI, while a berth in the World Touring Car Championship has also been mooted.