Motor racing: Prost bemoans a lack of charisma

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The Independent Online
Motor racing

Alain Prost, the four-time world champion, believes that Formula One needs him to return to racing at the age of 40 because the sport lacks charismatic figures.

The French driver, who retired in 1993 after setting an all-time record of 51 grand prix wins, will decide shortly whether to return next season, possibly with McLaren-Mercedes.

"I will considerer a comeback when I'm 100 per cent sure that I can rely on a good car and a good engine. I believe that my return to racing tracks would be good for Formula One, which lacks strong personalities," Prost said.

Prost, who had a run-out in a McLaren-Mercedes at Silverstone last week, said he planned further tests next week before taking a final decision. "It was not easy to step into a F1 car after one year and a half. Cars have changed a lot. You feel the lack of electronic control but engines are less powerful. I had no problems," Prost said.

The former world champion was interviewed at Milan's international cycle exhibition on Sunday, when he paid a visit to the stand of the bicycle company he helps to run.

"Ferrari's decision to sign Schumacher is the right one," Prost added. "He's the best driver, however, if I were he, I would have stayed with Benetton for another year. He will face an enormous pressure at Ferrari."

A less famous name to make a comeback is the Swiss driver, Jean-Denis Deletraz, who will return with Pacific Team Lotus at the Portuguese Grand Prix on 24 September. Deletraz, 31, made his debut with the Larrousse team in last year's Australian Grand Prix and will team up with the Italian, Andrea Montermini, for the remainder of this season.

Deletraz said: "Although the Pacific team is quite small, they have a lot of motivation."