Alain Prost

Alain Prost

24/2/1955

One of the most successful Formula One World Champions with 4 World Titles, only Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio have more. Prost was the F1 World Champion in 1985, 1986, 1989, and 1993, and runner-up in 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1990. He competed in 199 Grand Prix, 51 of which he won, and accumulated through his career 798.5 championship points.

Alain Marie Pascal Prost was born in Saint-Chamond, Loire, France,from an Armenian mother and French father. One of the most successful Formula One World Champions with 4 World Titles, only Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio have more.

Prost began karting at the age of 14 during a family holiday. He won several karting championships and in 1974 he left school to become a full-time driver, supporting himself by tuning engines and becoming a kart distributor. His prize for winning the 1975 French senior karting championship was a season in French Formula Renault, he went on to win the title and all but one race in 1976.

He then won the 1977 Formula Renault European championship before moving up to Formula Three in 1978. In 1979 he won both the French and European F3 Championships, by which time he was on the shopping lists of several Formula One teams.

After carefully consideration he joined McLaren in 1980 at the age of 25. However conflicts of opinion made the French driver break his two year deal and move to Renault. His first victory was all a French driver could dream of, as it was in his home soil in the 1981 French Grand Prix at Dijon, driving a French car. He added 8 more victories during his three full seasons at Renault but conflicts within the team made him return to the British-based Team McLaren.

In six seasons with the team he won 30 Grand Prix and clinched 3 World Championship Titles and was runner-up twice. In 1985, using TAG-Porsche engines, he was the First French Formula One World Champion, and repeated as World Champion in 1986 despite driving a car that was underpowered compared to those of his top rivals. In 1987 he broke Jackie Stewart's record by claiming his 28th Grand Prix victory. He won five races in 1990, and by entering the title deciding race at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, he was set to fight for another World Championship. The pole was won by his Brazilian rival at McLaren, Ayrton Senna, but due to the nature of the circuit, the pole position was placed at the right side of the main straight. This was and remains the the dirty side. Senna asked that the position be changed to the left, as it had more grip, and because in his view, the pole position was supposed to favor the fastest driver, and not the second placed. Track officials refused, and the Pole position place remained at the right of the track. As a result, Prost's Ferrari quickly overtook Senna at the start of the race. Senna then threw his car into Prost's while entering the first and medium speed corner. Both ended on the gravel pit, and thus Senna clinched the title thanks to his pre-existent points advantage. Later Senna confirmed the action, claiming that it was not fair that the FIA did not change the Pole position, nor the way Prost won the last championship.

In 1991, Ferrari was not on pace. After vocal public criticism of the Italian F1 icon, Prost was fired before the season ended. Prost went onto a sabatic year in 1992, which was dominated by Nigel Mansell in a Williams Renault, then after a political negotiation the British driver was dropped, being World Champion, in favor of Prost. In 1993, Prost clinched his final title in a dominant Williams, but Ayrton Senna was able to regularly challenge him in an inferior, and lacking of electronics, McLaren Ford. He finally decided to opt for retirement and left the sport being a posseser of an amazing list of Formula 1 achievements including at the time, the most victories and most points.

The record remained for one more decade until Michael Schumacher took over from him. In 1997 he bought the Ligier F1 team and renamed it Prost Grand Prix. Of course, great drivers don't necessarily make great businessmen and so it proved to be with four times world champion Alain Prost. The tens of millions needed to keep the team afloat just weren't forthcoming once key sponsors dropped out. In the end nothing could save the ailing team and it went into liquidation in early 2002.

Recently, Prost has returned to competition as a driver in ice races. He was linked to the new Grand Prix Masters Series, but declined the invitation. Ex-rival Nigel Mansell has laid down the gauntlet by suggesting that Prost should take part. Both during and after his racing career Prost received many honours, including: Legion d'Honneur (France, 1985), the Champion of Champions award (Grand Prix Former Drivers' Club, 1988), an OBE (Britain, 1993), and induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1999).

Throughout his career Prost also earned a set of nicknames; "The Professor" and "The Calculator" (owing to his smooth driving style - which strongly contrasted with more dramatic drivers such as Senna, and his carefully considered approach to race tactics), "The King of Rio" (Prost won six times in Brazil; five in Rio de Janeiro) and "Fast Son of a Bitch" (Coined by Niki Lauda). Outside of racing cars, Prost is a road cycling enthusiast, and has helped design bicycle frames for the French framebuilder Cyfac. Prost now lives with his wife, Anne-Marie, and two sons Nicolas and Sacha in Nyon, Switzerland.

Prost was the F1 World Champion in 1985, 1986, 1989, and 1993, and runner-up in 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1990. He competed in 199 Grand Prix, 51 of which he won, and accumulated through his career 798.5 championship points. Prost also completed 41 fastest laps, and a record six home Grand Prix wins.

Prost raced in the Andros ice racing series in 2003, finishing second in the championship behind Yvan Muller. Prost has continued to compete in the Andros Trophy, winning the title for Toyota in 2006/07.

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