Motor Racing: Prost cannot resist a swipe at the driver who got away
Wednesday 21 January 1998
Derick Allsop reports from Barcelona.
Alain Prost launched his new car, the Peugeot-powered AP01, here yesterday, intent on proving Damon Hill was wrong to reject the chance of driving it.
A day after Hill expressed his unease at leading the Jordan challenge without the status of No 1, Prost was buoyant at the prospect of placing his car in the care of his fellow Frenchman, Olivier Panis, and Jarno Trulli. The inexperienced Italian was given his chance when Hill decided against joining Prost at the last minute and opted instead for Jordan, whose new car he will test the Jordan for the first time here this morning.
That sudden change of direction by the former world champion patently still irks the man who won the title four times. But Prost's ill-starred negotiations with the driver he partnered at Williams five years ago have left him concluding: "I'm not sure Damon has the motivation to be world champion again. Now I have no regrets he did not sign for us.
"I think what I have always thought, that Damon made the wrong decision. He was very close to signing for us. The papers were ready to sign. He told us with two hours to go that he would not be joining us.
"I don't think it was anything to do with money. What I promised him and the way I intend to run the team was no bull. I'm straight with drivers. It's easy to make promises and not deliver. But we aim to be a top team. That means breaking into the leading four. I don't know how soon we can do that but if it is not this year I hope it will be next year.
"I am very happy with the drivers we have. Olivier is experienced now and fully recovered from his accident last year. Jarno is young but now he knows he can learn and concentrate on his driving because the car is his."
Prost has endeavoured to foster a sense of togetherness in his team, training with his drivers in a carefully choreographed bonding programme. He is also forming an open working relationship with Peugeot which, he believes, will benefit both concerns.
He said: "It is important for us all to work together. I want the drivers to be fit but also we want the morale to be good. It is the same with Peugeot. We have an open relationship with them, which is not usual in Formula One. But it is like being in the same team, sharing information and facilities. This is the way to go in the future."
Prost has taken a step towards that future by building a new factory and increasing his work-force to 150. To prosper, he knows he must beat the likes of Jordan and graduate to the "Premier League".
He said: "It is difficult to compete and survive in Formula One. We all have our objectives and I know I have to deliver."
Trulli has charmed the French camp by learning the language to a passable standard inside three months, and seemingly forming a sound relationship with his team-mate.
Panis, who suffered double fractures to both legs during last season's Canadian Grand Prix, said: "I would have been happy to work with Damon Hill and I'm a bit disappointed with his decision because it would have been a big challenge - for him. Jarno is young, quick, and we are working hard together to develop the car."
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Striker's four-month ban for biting an opponent expires on Friday
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Gus Poyet: In other places I would have been sacked straight after 8-0 Southampton defeat, says Sunderland manager
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Liverpool vs Real Madrid match report: Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema run Reds ragged at Anfield
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...
competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM - A high q...
competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...