DECEMBER 9, 2000
Chassis problems for Prost?
THERE have been mutterings in recent days that one or two teams are planning to make a fuss about Alain Prost's plans to use not only Ferrari engines in 2001 but also elements of the rear end of the current Ferrari package, including the gearbox and possibly the rear suspension as well. The stories were sufficiently strong for Benetton to issue a press release to deny that it has any objections to the Prost-Ferrari deal.
This was a decidedly odd thing to do and such statements these days usually only come when something IS going on. There is no need for a denial if nothing exists.
The thrust of the arguments against Prost appear to be that the French team would not be building its own car if too much Ferrari technology was allowed to be incorporated into the French machine and that this would be against the Technical Regulations as they stand.
The people most likely to be affected by a leap forward in improvement from Prost are the midfield teams such as Benetton and Jaguar so they are the most likely to make a fuss. Sauber might join in but as the Swiss team is a Ferrari customer it is unlikely that such a protest is not going to happen.
The irony, of course, is that Benetton boss Flavio Briatore has no real right for such a complaint as it is common knowledge that when he owned Ligier in the mid-1990s and at the same time ran Benetton the Ligier was a straight copy of the previous year's Benetton with a different engine stuck in the back. The team always said that every part was different but no-one was ever convinced, particularly after Olivier Panis won the Monaco GP in one of the cars.
People in Formula 1 have traditionally short memories but no doubt another team boss will mention this if Flavio makes too much noise about Alain Prost's plans for 2001.
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