OCTOBER 6, 1997
Dudot goes to Prost
AS we have been predicting for nearly a year Bernard Dudot is to leave his job as technical director of Renault Sport and take up a similar position with Prost Grand Prix at the end of October. Dudot has been with Renault for 30 years. At 58 the man who pioneered turbo technology in F1 is approaching retirement but his vast experience will be invaluable for the Prost-Peugeot team as it seeks to take on Williams, McLaren and Ferrari. It is significant that Peugeot Sport's technical director Jean-Pierre Boudy and Dudot worked together at Renault for 15 years and know one another well. The combination of knowledge from the Renault and Peugeot engines should make for a very competitive power unit. It should also be remembered that in the early 1980s Dudot worked as Alain Prost's chassis engineer with Renault Sport in addition to designing the engines.
The most significant aspect of the announcement, however, is that Dudot's defection will be seen by others at Renault Sport as a sign that the company has nothing in the pipeline to keep Dudot and this is likely to mean that many of the other staff at Viry-Chatillon will now start looking for work elsewhere. The most likely destination for these engineers will be Peugeot Sport which is situated just 12 miles from Viry-Chatillon, which will mean they will not have to uproot their families and move away from Paris.
Peugeot Sport cannot, however, take all of them and we expect that some will turn up working for Sauber Petronas Engineering in Switzerland; at Ferrari in Maranello and with TWR at Leafield in England. Some will, no doubt, stay on to work on the Mecachrome V10 program.
Prost designer Loic Bigois will remain as Project Leader for the design and development of the Prost-Peugeot AP01 chassis which is currently being prepared at the team's Magny-Cours factory. He will report to Dudot, as will Prost's head of research and development George Ryton and the yet-to-announced technical coordinator Jacky Eeckelaert - who is currently working at Peugeot.
"I have no doubt that Bernard's vast experience of motor sport will be of exceptional value to us," said Alain Prost. "Very few people can claim to have his global vision of the sport and his skills are not simply restricted to engines. The five world titles - perhaps six soon - that Renault has won under his direction speak for themselves."
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