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Prost and McLaren

SHORTLY after we closed for press last week, McLaren stunned the F1 world by announcing that Alain Prost would be testing for the team with which he won three World Titles in the late 1980s.

Prost visited the McLaren factory for a seat fitting in a McLaren-Mercedes MP4/10B and is expected to begin his testing work at Silverstone on Wednesday. Prost, however, continues to deny that he is intending to race again.

After Ayrton Senna was killed in May 1994, Prost said that he would never race in F1 again as a mark of respect for his greatest rival, and only a month ago he said that he is not planning to go back on that promise. "I may return to work in F1 is some capacity," he said, "but not as a driver again."

Alain's dreams of his own F1 team appear to have faltered but it now seems he may have decided to forget setting up his own operation and instead buy his way into a top team. For some time there have been rumors that Ron Dennis's McLaren partner Mansour Ojjeh is getting bored with F1 and would be willing to sell his shares in McLaren International (the racing team) at the right price. The only drawback to this theory is that in the past Prost has repeatedly shown that he is not keen on spending his own money on an F1 project.

Whatever the long-term aims, Prost will test for McLaren under the watchful eye of engineer Steve Nichols, with whom he worked at McLaren to win two of his World Titles. Dennis hopes that this well-proven duo will be able to iron out some of the problems of the MP4/10B chassis and enable the designers of next year's car to do a better job.

In addition, if rumors of Michelin tires prove to be correct, Prost will be invaluable as a test driver.

Ron Dennis says he will reveal his plans in full at the European Grand Prix on October 1, but we expect McLaren to announce a four-driver line-up of Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Alain Prost and Jan Magnussen.

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