Alesi and Frentzen move in opposite directions

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The Independent Online

Jean Alesi yesterday rekindled his Formula One career by signing for Jordan as replacement for the sacked Heinz-Harald Frentzen who, in a curious twist, has taken up the seat vacated by the veteran at Prost.

Both Alesi and Frentzen have been given contracts with their new teams until the end of the season, although their respective futures beyond the remaining five grands prix of this year are open to speculation.

For Alesi, his move to Jordan is the confirmation of what was the latest worst-kept secret in motor racing since his deal with Prost was dissolved by mutual agreement earlier this week. But it is Frentzen's switch which will raise eyebrows, and, possibly, tensions in the Formula One paddock when the championship moves on to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix next week.

Frentzen is still seething at his exit after his contract – which still had 18 months to run – was terminated with immediate effect on the eve of his home race at Hockenheim in Germany two weeks ago, with the 34-year-old being given the abrupt news by fax.

Frentzen, understandably left shocked by his dismissal, has since placed the matter in the hands of his lawyers and is apparently demanding £13m in compensation for loss of earnings, damage to his reputation and emotional distress.

For the Jordan team, their owner, Eddie Jordan, and the French-Sicilian, it is a moment of reunion. The 37-year-old Alesi won the Formula 3000 championship with Jordan in 1989.

"I am overjoyed by this development in my career," said Alesi. "Eddie launched me into Formula One, so to return to race for him after all this time is something very special.

Prost's team principal, Alain Prost, believes Frentzen's signing will help a team who have rarely impressed in their time in the sport. "His large experience within F1 will be a strong asset for us for the remainder of the 2001 season," he said.

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