Montpellier — Ex-Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi was taken into custody in Avignon after setting off a large firecracker against the window of his brother-in-law's office, AFP learned from the prosecutor's office on Tuesday.
"Jean Alesi was taken into custody on Monday around 4pm for damaging the property of others by means of an explosive device," Nimes deputy prosecutor Antoine Wolff told AFP, confirming information from L'Equipe.
The incident occurred in Villeneuve-les-Avignon where the 57-year-old former Ferrari driver resides.
The police had been called Sunday around 10pm local time by neighbours, concerned about the sound of an explosion.
A vehicle which was spotted by a neighbour at the site leaving with its lights off was traced to Alesi's brother Jose who was arrested.
The former Ferrari driver went to the police station on Monday to clear his brother, explaining that he had been in the car with his son and a friend.
Alesi said he had stuck a "large firework bought in Italy" into the frame of a window of his brother-in-law's architect's office "without imagining causing such damage", said the deputy prosecutor.
Alesi, who scored one victory in his 13-year career in F1, explained that he only wanted to play a "bad joke" on his brother-in-law, who is currently separated from Alesi's sister.
The brother-in-law, who says he has "no problem" with Alesi, nonetheless filed a complaint for the damage to the windowframe, said Wolff.
Alesi's son and his friend were also taken into custody as police set about determining the extent of their complicity in the incident.
"I am quite sceptical about the notion of a 'joke' carried out at 10pm without the person concerned knowing who it is," added Wolff.