Motor Racing: Prost given his deadline: McLaren chase drivers

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ALAIN PROST has been given until 18 March, nine days before the start of the Formula One season, to decide whether he wants to drive for McLaren-Peugeot.

The Anglo-French alliance had only one driver, Mika Hakkinen, on view when they unveiled their new car, the MP4/9, at the racing team's headquarters in Woking yesterday. McLaren plan to have three drivers and intend to sign at least one more by 11 February. Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert and Derek Warwick are among those linked with a job.

But Prost, who won three of his four world championships with McLaren, remains their prime target and Dennis has agreed to give him all the time he needs to arrive at his verdict.

Prost retired midway through a two-year contract with Williams- Renault and received more than pounds 5m as part of a severance to keep him out of another car. He would have to repay that sum to race on but Peugeot believe there is now an even chance he will do so.

Dennis suggested Prost had not been as content at Ferrari or Williams as he had at McLaren, missing their 'attractive environment' and that he still had the hunger to compete.