APRIL 27, 1998
Personnel changes at Prost?
THERE were rumors at Imola that Arrows Technical Director John Barnard may be on the move shortly but these have been denied by team boss Tom Walkinshaw. Barnard joined the team at the start of May last year on what was described a long-term deal. We understand that the deal is for three years with an option for two seasons beyond that which means that the earliest Barnard could join Prost would be at the end of the 2000 season.
There is little doubt, however, that Prost is looking for someone to become Technical Director in the longer-term as Bernard Dudot is not a chassis engineer and is nearing retirement age. The obvious choice is Barnard but if he is not available Prost will be looking for another top-line technical organizer. At the moment there seem to be three men on the market who would fit the bill: Alan Jenkins (who worked with Prost at McLaren), Harvey Postlethwaite and his current deputy at Tyrrell Mike Gascoyne, both of whom are expected to move because there is no place for them in the new British American racing hierarchy.
Prost is also believed to be looking at the structure of the racing team and held discreet talks with former Sauber racing director Max Welti at Imola. Welti is still considering his future having been dumped by the Swiss team because of political infighting last winter. The logical role for Welti at Prost would be to take over the role currently held by Cesare Fiorio, who is a leftover at Prost from the days when the team was called Ligier and was owned by Flavio Briatore. Fiorio and Prost surprised most of the paddock by being able to work together last year, despite having had a poisonous relationship when they were together at Ferrari in 1991.
While Walkinshaw says all is well there is no doubt that both he and Barnard are hard task masters and like to get their own way. Things have not been easy inside the team in recent months and several members of the technical team have left Leafield, notably the highly rated Japanese engineer Taki Takamura, who has gone to work for BAR, and Tino Belli who has gone back to work in America.
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