Jean Alesi (Photo Credit: Group Lotus)

Jean Alesi (Photo Credit: Group Lotus)

Ex-Formula One star Jean Alesi is to return to single seater racing next year after he announced his intentions to race in the 2012 Indianapolis 500.

Following his departure from F1 after the 2001 season the Frenchman has raced in the DTM series before returning to driving a Ferrari last season – this time a GT2-spec F430 in the Le Mans Series. For the start of 2011 Alesi joined Group Lotus as an brand ambassador and to help with the development of the T125, Lotus' customer aimed F1 car.

The attempt to qualifying for next year's Indy 500, however, will be Alesi's first time racing on an oval.

His development role at Lotus will give him some experience as he helps the manufacturer with the new Lotus Indycar engine that will power his car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 2.2litre twin turbo V6 engine is on schedule and expected to fire up for the first time in mid-October and begin track testing in December.

“I'm thrilled that Lotus has given me the opportunity to compete in such a world famous race,” said Alesi. “It's going to be a very special experience for me but I also know that I have a lot of hard work ahead. I'm very focused on the task I'm facing – I'm taking my training very seriously, I have some amazing support on this front from a 'comeback' expert and of course I will be testing extensively. I'm really excited about the race.”