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New developments at Prost

IN recent days Alain Prost has been putting into place some of the new marketing structure for Prost Grand Prix. The team has hired Frenchman Gerard Seizille, formerly of TAG-Heuer, to be its Marketing Director but probably more significantly in recent days a new company has been registered in Paris under the name of "Prost Marketing" and we hear that the three shareholders of the operation are none other than Alain Prost, Julian Jakobi and Craig Pollock.

This is interesting as it suggests that the much-vaunted Jakobi-Pollock F1 team - which is expected to involve Jacques Villeneuve at some point in the future - will not be a new independent operation but will actually be part of Alain Prost's fast-developing F1 empire.

Prost Marketing makes sense of a number of rumors which have been circulating in recent weeks. It explains a meeting which took place at Paris Airport last November between Prost, Adrian Reynard and Reynard Racing Cars managing-director Rick Gorne. Reynard was linked with the rumored Jakobi-Pollock team.

It also makes sense the evolving deal between John Barnard and TWR Arrows. Barnard had been expected to work with Prost but had to look elsewhere.

It also makes sense of the rumors which have linked both Prost and Jakobi-Pollock with the giant British American Tobacco company - which is planning a $375m attack in F1 racing over a five-year period with its Lucky Strike brand. This would fit in nicely with Prost's current sponsor SEITA - which owns the Gauloises Blondes brand but also makes Lucky Strike cigarettes for the European market under license to BAT.

Last week in The Times newspaper in London, unnamed BAT sources were quoted as saying that the company is definitely intending to enter Formula 1 as a team owner.

The report quoted a source close to BAT saying that "they definitely want equity - 50-50 at least. It is going to turn the F1 world on its ear. It will involve a lot of big names and a lot of surprises. They have everything lined up."

The story explained that BAT's preferred course of action was to be involved with Jacques Villeneuve and Adrian Reynard building cars designed by Adrian Newey.

BAT is understood to have talked to four different groups about F1 - TWR Arrows, Williams, Prost and, rumors suggest Prodrive, which has ambitions in F1 but currently runs the Subaru Rally team with backing from BAT's 555 brand. A decision needs to be taken by June if the BAT plan is to go ahead for 1998.

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