There are plenty of racing series around the world that attract big names from Formula One. Le Mans endurance sportscar racing ranks high among them, but the former F1 pilots usually go to the top-tier LMP1 class. Sometimes the GT1 class draws some big names, but this year it’s the GT2 category that’s drawing two drivers familiar to F1 fans: Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi.
After 14 years on the grid with six different teams, Fisichella was called up to Ferrari to fill in for Felipe Massa last season. He’s been kept on as a test and reserve driver for the Scuderia this year, and though had hoped to secure a race seat (with Ferrari’s blessing) for another F1 team this season, none proved anxious to sign an aging driver who could be called back to Maranello at a moment’s notice. Instead, he’ll be contesting the full Le Mans Series calendar in Europe behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 GTC for AF Corse, a team which shares close relations with both Ferrari and Maserati. After a career devoted to formula racing (with a couple of seasons in touring cars), the foray into sportscar racing will be a novelty for Fisico.
Joining him in the cockpit will be none other than Jean Alesi, who tested for AF Corse back in October. The former grand prix winner was always a favorite among the tifosi, and since retiring from Formula One has tried his hand at stock cars in Asia and touring cars in Germany.
Alesi and Fisichella will be supported by Toni Vilander, the Finnish driver who took the FIA GT2 titles in 2007 and 2008. AF Corse will field two additional F430 GTCs in the Le Mans Series, one driven by Gianmaria Bruni (another former F1 driver, GP2 race winner and Le Mans class winner) and FIA GT2 class winner Jaime Melo, and another by the returning race-winning Argentine pairing of Luis Perez Companc and Matias Russo. Details in the press release after the jump.