Motor Racing: Prost's grand prix future under threat from Mosley

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FORMULA ONE is bracing itself for another major confrontation tomorrow when Williams-Renault challenge the remarkable attempt of the Fisa president, Max Mosley, to prevent Alain Prost's return.

The Formula One Commission, which will consider Prost's application for a super-licence, will be armed with a copy of a letter from Mosley to Frank Williams, the managing director of Williams, urging him to withdraw the Frenchman's nomination for this year's world championship.

Mosley, angered by the triple world champion's criticism of Fisa's stewardship of Formula One, says in a letter: 'If he held a super-licence there would, I think, be a strong case for the world council taking it away under article 151 of the International Sporting Code. As he does not, it might be better not to give him one.

'I do not believe you or your sponsors can control him. Indeed, I am sure you have clauses in your contract which cover this situation but have had no effect. And even if he cannot be quoted directly, he will probably find a way to poison the atmosphere just at the time we most need to improve it.'

Mosley questions whether it would be in the best interests of Formula One to allow 'a man like this' to participate. The president goes on: 'He clearly thinks he should be running everything. He pontificates about things he does not understand and he describes the entire governing body in contemptuous and offensive terms.

'He even attacks Formula One for being too concerned with money when he has probably taken a bigger share than anyone. Can you think of anything more calculated to persuade the head of a major corporation not to take his company into Formula One than constant attacks and abuse from a triple world champion whom the public respect and admire?

'Don't forget sponsors and heads of companies, indeed all the decision-makers on whom we depend, read this stuff. And because he is a three-time world champion, they think he knows what he is talking about.'

Mosley states he telephoned the Frenchman at his Swiss home last November and told him he could ring at any time to discuss any concerns he may have. Mosley says Prost never got in touch before telling a British car magazine the new narrow tyres, enforced for this coming season, would make cars 'practically undriveable and very dangerous'. Mosley dismisses that claim as wholly inaccurate.

Prost has accused Mosley of making arbitrary decisions while the Fisa president maintains the new rules were decided after 'interminable exchanges' with team leaders.

The content of the letter was revealed only yesterday although Williams say it was received some weeks ago. They clearly have no intention of backing down from an inevitable confrontation with the authorities. A spokesman for the team said: 'Alain Prost is one of our nominated drivers and we shall be putting forward his application on Friday.'

Should Prost be refused a licence, the way would be clear for Ayrton Senna to take the most coveted drive in Formula One. The Brazilian's attempt to join the team, following the departure of Britain's world champion, Nigel Mansell, was blocked by Prost. Such a development would doubtless exasperate Mansell, who expressed his desire to defend his title, but is now preparing for his maiden season in IndyCars.

McLaren, meanwhile, are leaving the door open for Senna despite confirming that the 24-year- old Finn, Mika Hakkinen, will be one of their drivers this season. Hakkinen will be introduced as a McLaren recruit tomorrow at Silverstone, where the teams other registered driver, Michael Andretti, will give the new car, the MP4/8, its 'shakedown' test.