When Jean Alesi won the 1995 Formula One Grand Prix at Canada, he joined an infamous group.
The F1 One Hit Wonders.
Throughout the history of the sport, many drivers have stood upon the top step of the podium just once, soaking up the atmosphere as their National Anthem plays – pride, success and joy tearing through their very being. Jean Alesi experienced this on that special day in Canada. He had waited over five years for a victory and it was made even more special for the fact that it was his 31st birthday – and that he won in a red number 27 Ferrari, as driven by Canadian Gilles Villeneuve (of whom the circuit is named after). It’s interesting to note that Alesi’s win was also the last for a V12 engine.
It wasn’t expected to be a win for Alesi. Michael Schumacher had been commanding the race until a problem with his gearbox meant an overly long pitstop cost him dearly. Remarkably, several other regular front-runners had technical issues that day, allowing both Jordan cars to finish on the podium for the first time in their history.
As soon as Alesi crossed the finish line to take the chequered flag, race fans spewed through the safety fences and charged the pit lane and start/finish straight. The race officials put out the black flag immediately, a signal for every driver on track to stop and hold their position. By this stage, Jean Alesi was at the hairpin on his victory lap. Running out of fuel, Alesi unfastened his steering wheel, clambered on top of the car and “surfed” it to until it came to a stop. Schumacher appeared alongside Alesi and gave him a lift back to the pits on top of his car.
So as Jean Alesi sprayed the champagne and celebrated his victory, no doubt he hoped it would be the first of many. As history shows, it was not to be so Alesi joined that infamous list, that of the F1 One Hit Wonders:
Luigi Fagioli – French Grand Prix – 1951
Piero Taruffi – Swiss Grand Prix – 1952
Luigi Musso – Argentinian Grand Prix – 1956
Joakim Bonnier – Dutch Grand Prix – 1959
Giancarlo Baghetti – French Grand Prix – 1961
Innes Ireland – US Grand Prix – 1961
Lorenzo Bandini – Austrian Grand Prix – 1964
Richie Ginther – Mexican Grand Prix – 1965
Ludovico Scarfiotti – Italian Grand Prix – 1966
Peter Gethin – Italian Grand Prix – 1971
Francois Cevert – US Grand Prix – 1971
Jean-Pierre Beltoise – Monaco Grand Prix – 1972
Carlos Pace – Brazilian Grand Prix – 1975
Jochen Mass – Spanish Grand Prix – 1975
Vittorio Brambilla – Austrian Grand Prix – 1975
Gunnar Nilsson – Belgian Grand Prix – 1977
Alessandro Nannini – Japanese Grand Prix – 1989
Jean Alesi – Canadian Grand Prix – 1995
Olivier Panis – Monaco Grand Prix – 1996
Jarno Trulli – Monaco Grand Prix 2004
Robert Kubica – Canadian Grand Prix – 2008
Heikki Kovalainen – Hungarian Grand Prix – 2008
Pastor Maldonado – Spanish Grand Prix – 2012
Max Verstappen – Spanish Grand Prix – 2016 *
Valtteri Bottas – Russian Grand Prix – 2017 *
(* denotes driver still competing in Formula One)