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AUGUST 2, 2001

Prost says Alesi will stay

ALAIN PROST says that Jean Alesi is under contract to his team and will not be leaving to take Heinz-Harald Frentzen's job at Jordan.

"I did see Eddie Jordan," Prost said, "but I told him that Jean was not free and that he had a contract until the end of the season. Next year he can do what he likes as he will be free, but now he cannot."

The problem for Prost is that he cannot force Alesi to drive if Jean does not want to. But he can stop Alesi driving for a rival team. The issue however is really whether or not Prost can get any compensation out of Jordan to let Alesi go. A couple of million dollars would help Prost keep his team running for a few more weeks and Jordan can probably afford it.

Such deals are rarely discussed but there are financial settlements between teams all the time when staff move from one job to another. In recent months Prost received a payment from the Ford Motor Company to take on Luciano Burti after deciding that Gaston Mazzacane was not up to the job. It is not known whether Prost had to settle with the Argentine driver but it is unlikely that there was no deal. Adrian Newey's recent attempted defection to Jaguar resulted in McLaren making a settlement payment to Jaguar and the word on the street is that Minardi has recently received a check from Toyota in recompense for the Japanese car maker having poached Minardi's technical director Gustav Brunner.

In Formula 1 there is such a thing as a contract but there is no such thing as a contract which cannot be negotiated away...

We expect Alesi to appear for Jordan in Hungary in two weeks time.