Frenchman Jean Alesi was pleased after getting behind the wheel of a DTM car, driving a racing vehicle for the first time since retiring from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season. The 37-year old drove Bernd Schneider's AMG Mercedes CLK around the short Hockenheim circuit in Germany after having agreed to the test with Mercedes boss Norbert Haug at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Alesi, who on Tuesday visited the factory where the DTM Mercedes are built, set a fastest time of 1:11.95, some eleven seconds off this year's pole position, after 24 laps on a damp track.

"I am very happy to have had the opportunity to test," said a smiling Alesi. "I enjoyed it, and DTM could be a possibility for the future of my racing career.

"Even though the track was, unfortunately, a bit slippery today, the car felt really good and it was very important to get a feeling for it."

Alesi is currently considering his options to continue racing in the future, and Mercedes boss Haug strengthened suggestions that Alesi has found a new place to race by adding: "It could be a possibility, for sure."

António Sousa, FOSA