Prost goes to Versailles

AS we predicted in March, Alain Prost is to move his Formula 1 team from Magny-Cours to a new headquarters which will be built near the town of Versailles, in the south-western suburbs of Paris, close to Louis XIV's world-famous chateau. The Versailles town council voted on Friday to push ahead with the deal which is scheduled to be finished in February next year. The town will pay for the project with assistance from the regional development office AFTRP (Agence Fonciere et Technique de la Region Parisienne). Prost will pay a fixed rental fee of $350,000 a year for the next 12 years, after which he will become the owner of the facility. This means that Prost will have to spend a total of $4.2m for the facility which is budgeted to cost a total of $7m.

The plans announced by the mayor of Versailles Etienne Pinte - who belongs to Jacques Chirac's ruling Republican party - include a 45,000 sq. ft research and development building and a 22,500 sq. ft workshop. Work will start as soon as possible on the new facility - which will be built on land owned by GIAT (the electronics and telecommunications company).

The size of the factory and the timing of the move (at a time when a team would be working flat out on producing new chassis) indicate that Prost is probably not planning to build chassis at Satory. A state-of-the-art F1 factory, such as the Benetton facility, is around 85,000 sq. ft in size (without the windtunnel extension now being built).

We expect to hear within a few weeks that Reynard Racing Cars will be building Prost chassis in England.

The team - formerly called Ligier - has been based at Magny-Cours since it moved there from Vichy in 1988. The intention at the time was to build up a motor racing industry at Magny-Cours around the team and, to some extent, this was successful. The departure of the team is likely to have a profound effect and the local politicians are up in arms about the move.

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