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Barnard confirmed with Prost

PROST GRAND PRIX has finally announced that John Barnard is to join the French operation as technical consultant. The news has been rumored since Barnard fell out with Tom Walkinshaw of the Arrows team six months ago. The announcement was delayed while lawyers of Barnard and Walkinshaw sorted out a settlement between them. We understand that Walkinshaw was arguing that Barnard was not sticking to his contract and Barnard said the contract had been breached because his B3 Technologies company had not been paid for work it had done for Arrows.

The problem has now been solved and Barnard and his 30 staff at B3 Technologies will work for Prost on an exclusive basis.

Although Barnard and B3 were both working with Arrows this year, B3 also supplied Prost Grand Prix with a variety of parts for the AP01. This was one of the points of contention between Walkinshaw and Barnard.

B3 will take over the development of the Prost-Peugeot AP02. This has been designed by the Prost design department under Loic Bigois, although we understand that Barnard has been involved in the program for some months in an advisory role.

We expect that some of Prost's young engineers will be assigned to work with B3 at its headquarters in Shalford, in England, to ensure the closest possible collaboration and that the facility - originally built for Ferrari in August 1992 - will act as a British offshoot for Prost Grand Prix.

The deal is no surprise as Prost and Barnard worked together with great success at McLaren in the mid-1980s and have been discussing working together again ever since Prost first began to talk of his own team 10 years ago.

Although Prost is hoping that the AP02 will be better than the troublesome AP01, the change in technical structure will inevitably mean that the new car will be something of a compromise and Barnard will no doubt be spending a lot of his time looking ahead to the AP03 in the year 2000. This will be fitted with an entirely new Peugeot V10 engine rather than the existing model which is a development of the same engine with which Peugeot entered F1 in 1994.

Barnard is expected to expand the staff at B3 and the most likely target for recruits will be the troubled Arrows operation, although we believe that Alain Prost and Tom Walkinshaw agreed to a non-poaching pact in October after several important engineers left Arrows to work in Paris.

Whether this agreement will be respected remains to be seen...

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