PEOPLE: ERIC VUILLEMIN
Name: Eric Vuillemin
Officially Eric Vuillemin is the Team Coordinator of Prost Grand Prix but the reality is that without him the team would probably cease to function as it is Eric - quiet and self-effacing - who ensures that everyone on the race team is where they should be when they should be.
Vuillemin started out as mechanic in French Formula Renault in 1976 and worked for a variety of French teams before moving to England in 1979 to work in the Aurora AFX British Formula 1 series. The following year he was a mechanic with the Toleman Formula 2 team, working with Brian Henton but in 1981 he went back to France and began working with the little AGS Formula 2 team and driver Richard Dallest. In 1982 the team expanded to two cars and Vuillemin took on more responsibility but then decided to sign up for the 1983 season with Fred Stalder's ROC team in the French Formula 3 series with drivers Marc Sourd and Gilles Lempereur.
He was back in Formula 1 in 1984 as a mechanic with John Macdonald's RAM team, which was running Jonathan Palmer and Philippe Alliot but in 1985 he decided that he preferred Formula 3 and was back in France as team manager of Keerbergs Transport Racing. KTR was quite successful in that era with drivers Eric Bachelart and Harald Huysman but in 1987 Vuillemin decided to move on to be part-owner of a new team called Sport Auto Racing. Based in Belgium, the team entered the French Formula 3 series with Bachelart and former motocross World Champion Andre Malherbe. Bachelart finished third in the championship behind Jean Alesi and Eric Bernard. The team graduated to Formula 3000 in 1988 but money was short and after driver Fabien Giroix broke both his legs in a huge crash at Monza the team was forced to close.
He joined Ligier for 1989 and has been quietly working with the team ever since, helping to hold the operation together under five different owners: Guy Ligier, Cyril de Rouvre, Tom Walkinshaw, Flavio Briatore and Alain Prost.