Thursday 5 January at 08:35 :
Jan.5 (GMM) Jean Alesi has hailed Ferrari's decision to sign up an Italian driver for 2017.
GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi will be the fabled Maranello team's reserve driver this year, a decision that has pleased former Ferrari star Alesi.
"It's fantastic," the Frenchman told La Gazzetta dello Sport, "but it would have been astonishing if Ferrari had allowed such an opportunity to escape.
"Giovinazzi is a well educated young man, which is rare these days, but above all he is an excellent driver," Alesi added. "He came within a hair of the title in his first GP2 season, now he just needs some good kilometres."
Another Ferrari junior, meanwhile, is Alesi's own 17-year-old son Giuliano, but the youngster is staying put for a second season of GP3 this year.
"Working with the (Ferrari) academy is a guarantee," said 52-year-old Alesi. "Giuliano can develop without rushing."
Asked, however, if his son might make his breakthrough and test a formula one car this year, Alesi answered with defiance.
"If necessary, I would lay down in front of the box exit!" he exclaimed. "Giuliano can only think of GP3 for now.
"If he wants to get in a F1 car, then we have one at home that he can get in and I will take a photo."