The bizarre mystery over Jean Alesi’s Williams F1 deal

Ferrari Formula 1 hero Jean Alesi almost didn’t sign for the Scuderia for 1991, having burst onto the scene with minnows Tyrrell.

Alesi actually signed a deal to drive for Williams for ‘91, which would have placed him at the team ahead of one of its most dominant periods. But, after a protracted contractual wrangle featuring some of the sport’s biggest names, he never drove for the British team, and signed for Ferrari instead – where he would struggle with unreliable machinery and only score one grand prix win.

Big names like Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost (ironically Alesi’s first Ferrari teammate) went on to win championships for Williams instead. To this day Alesi doesn’t know the full reasons behind Williams baulking at making the deal public at the time, prompting several theories at who was really behind his missed opportunity.

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