A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Buenos Aires (AR), 23 Dec 2000
When Alain Prost - the Professor - decided to hang up his helmet and gloves after clinching four F1 titles, he started to work out in order to fulfill an old dream: to be his own team's manager. After being McLaren's advisor, he achieved his objective in 1997.
He did it by acquiring the Ligier team. Prost renamed it and, although he kept the deal with Mugen-Honda engines, the idea of being motorised by Peugeot - the company he was so in-sync with - rounded his head at the time.
Sixth in 1997, ninth in 1998 and seventh in 1999, Prost fitted definitely into the group of makes fighting in the thick of battle. French car, French engine, French manager and French first driver too (Olivier Panis, and then Jean Alesi); everything became a cocktail that made the Gauloises to get delighted with. Nowadays, as a matter of fact, the petit homme is worshipped as in his best times of successful driver.
But the Prost Grand Prix had a forgettable 2000 session. Not only did they finish behind Minardi in the Constructors' Championship, they also had to cope with bad moments as a result of domestic problems.
As many specialists said, Prost GP were the responsible of the progressive devaluation of Jean Alesi - the most experienced of the field - among the top drivers' group.
There are accusing fingers pointing there was a waste of Nick Heidfeld's potential. The German - Formula 3000 Champion and former rival of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya in memorable duels - was called to be the successor of Schumachers and Frentzen, but he barely could prove it, by struggling with a car that went out of track when he attempted to drive it just beyond the limit.
On top of that, there were some incidents among the team-mates, those who Alesi ironically attributed to the 'inexperience' of Heidfeld.
But Heidfeld is no longer in the team and Alain renewed his spirit and redoubled the bet, not only by dealing with Pan American Sport Network (PSN) but also by signing up with Ferrari in order to be outfitted by the Italians. The Professor is hoping for a huge breakthrough in the matter of performance and race results.
Moreover, Brazilian Pedro Paulo Diniz - Sauber's driver up to the end of this season and son of a wealthy businessman - joined up the team as advisor in order to give all of his experience. So Prost (team and man) seem to keep in shape for now.
* translated by Maximiliano Catania/FUNO