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Prost collecting new sponsors

ALAIN PROST's package of financial backers continues to grow with the news that the team has landed a four-year deal with the Bic company, famous for its ball-point pens, cigarette lighters and shaving equipment. The company is in direct competition with Gillette, which is sponsoring the Benetton team.

The company is owned by the Bich Family and has long associations with sporting sponsorship in cycling, tennis (as a personal sponsor of John McEnroe), golf (Nick Faldo) and soccer star Eric Cantona. In the early 1980s Bic funded the first French challenge for the America's Cup in yacht racing.

There were also suggestions in the F1 paddock in Sao Paulo that Prost Grand Prix has concluded a deal with one of France's largest engineering conglomerates Alcatel Alsthom.

The company, which produces everything from power stations and ships to France's famous TGV high-speed trains, is controlled by some of the companies involved in Canal Plus, Prost's other big supporter by way of a complicated series of cross-shareholdings. Alcatel Alsthom is run by Serge Tchuruk, who was formerly the boss of French oil company Total, which will be one of Prost's sponsors next year when the team will use Peugeot V10 engines.

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