Formula 1 drivers are always looking for a new challenge. It's part of their character, and it's what's brought former champions out of retirement and sent former grand prix pilots in search of new series to conquer. That last bit has sent big names to series as varied as DTM and the Andros Trophy, but few forms of motor racing hold the kind of new challenge that oval speedways can provide. When you're used to twisting road courses and street circuits, America's banked turns require a whole new set of skills.
In recent years, former F1 drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve and Kimi Raikkonen have looked to NASCAR to provide that challenge. But that role used to be filled by Indy, back in the day when champions like Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi would take to the Brickyard to show what they're made of. Now reunited and with new chassis and engine suppliers lining up, IndyCar racing is climbing back towards its former glory, and one former F1 driver plans on staking his claim there for the first time next year.
That's when Jean Alesi will head to Indianapolis to contest next year's Indy 500. After having raced in F1, DTM, Le Mans and even the Asia-based Speedcar Series, it'll be a new challenge for Alesi, and a fitting highlight for Lotus in their increased involvement in IndyCar racing. The British outfit for whom Alesi acts as ambassador and test-driver laureate has been upping its participation in the American open-wheel series, but will begin supplying its own 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines for use in the series starting next year. Follow the jump for the official announcement.