Jean Alesi, 47, to compete in Indy 500

Updated: September 23, 2011, 9:44 AM ET
Associated Press

SINGAPORE -- Former Formula One driver Jean Alesi will come out of a decade-long retirement from single-seater racing to compete in next year's Indy 500.

The 47-year-old Alesi has been serving as a test driver and ambassador for Lotus, which is joining IndyCar as an engine supplier starting next year.

The French former Ferrari driver, famed for his high-risk driving style, has not competed in a single-seater car since retiring from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season. He has remained active in motorsport by racing in German touring cars, the Speedcar series and LeMans Series.

Alesi did not announce which team he will race for.

"It's a surprise to a lot of my friends because it's a long time I am not racing at this level," Alesi said Friday at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Alesi said his test work for Lotus had "made me crazy about being back in a tough race car."

But he first had to convince himself that his ability to compete again matched his desire.

"It's not something I did because I want to race, but I want to be competitive, not to be ridiculous," Alesi said.

He said he plans to get back into race fitness by cycling in Sicily.

Alesi, whose only F1 victory came in Canada in 1995, had considered finally ending his long racing career, but was lured back by the promise of racing at the famed Brickyard.

"Many times I was tempted maybe to say, 'It's over,' but then when I relax I say, 'Why do I have to say I quit?' " Alesi said.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press