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Prost confirm Gauloises sponsorship withdrawal

Prost Grand Prix team confirmed on Tuesday that their major sponsor Gauloises Blondes are pulling out of Formula One.

French tobacco brand Gauloises Blondes has sponsored Prost since 1997, and this season invested $24 million into the team.

But after a disappointing season, Gauloises Blondes have opted to withdraw its backing of Prost, despite the team sealing a Ferrari engine deal for the 2001 and 2002 seasons to replace their current Peugeot power-units.

"The relationship between Prost Grand Prix and Gauloises Blondes has always been friendly and open," said Prost president Alain Prost.

"Throughout our partnership, the group's management has always been extremely correct by keeping me constantly abreast of their strategy.

"The end of their sponsorship is not at all a surprise and I have been prepared for it a long time."

This news comes after reports that Canadian-based Vector Motorsport had pulled out of negotiations to purchase a stake in the team last week. Belgian brewers Interbrew and Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica have also been linked with the team and an announcement from Prost is expected soon.

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