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John Barnard and Alain Prost

ALAIN PROST is expected to announce this week that he has signed a deal to work with British designer John Barnard on the design and development of the Prost-Peugeot AP02 and its successors. Barnard's B3 Technologies company and another company he owns in California currently supply parts to Prost Grand Prix but the new deal is expected to see B3 Technologies renamed to become Prost's British design office in much the same way as the same facility was used by Ferrari before Barnard left the Italian team in 1997.

In the meantime Prost engineers are pushing ahead with tests on the hybrid Prost-Peugeot - which is codenamed AP01B. This features a prototype version of the 1999 Peugeot V10 engine mated to a completely new longitudinal gearbox which the team has been working on all season.

The AP01B ran for the first time last week at Magny-Cours and despite very bad weather conditions for most of the test both Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli were impressed by the improved performance of the car which, they report, is much less nervous at the rear. Both drivers completed 100 laps of the track in the car in the course of the four day test and there has been some suggestion that the team might try to run B-spec cars in Japan at the end of the month. This is unlikely as a rush to produce parts might be detrimental to the team's preparations for next year.

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