JANUARY 31, 2002
Who will buy the Prost factory?
THE biggest question since the collapse of Prost Grand Prix is what is going to happen to the team's 70,000 sq ft. factory in Guyancourt. Built in 1998 at a cost of $7.5m the Prost factory houses many of the machines that are needed for modern F1 engineering businesses. No team is expected to buy the factory but it could be a useful purchase for either of the Paris-based F1 engine companies.
Asiatech is located not far from Guyancourt in a building it shares with the Peugeot Sport World Rally Championship program. The deal is a long-term lease arrangement and if Asiatech is considering staying in F1 for the long-term (and there has long been talk that ultimately the organization would like to buy an F1 team) it would be an idea to buy the Prost facility. Asiatech may have been one of the groups bidding for Prost Grand Prix although the team principals have said that they want to have a chassis operation based in Britain if and when they do acquire a team.
The chance to buy the Prost facility could provide Asiatech with the chance to move to more modern facilities as the Peugeot Sport factory dates back to the 1980s. Asiatech could transfer all the machinery, which it owns, and end up with a much better working environment.
However, Renault Sport might also be interested in buying the facility because the current factory at Viry-Chatillon was established by Amedee Gordini in 1965. It has been enlarged and modified on several occasions but this has meant that it is not as effective as a new facility might be. The facility at Viry-Chatillon cannot easily be enlarged because it is squeezed between an access road to the industrial estate and a motorway. It is decidedly unglamorous.
The advantage of moving to the Prost facility is that this is located just around the corner from the Renault Technocentre and is much more in keeping with the glittering image that Renault likes to present to the world.
The other major asset belonging to Prost is the windtunnel in Magny-Cours. This is only a 40% scale facility but it was upgraded in 1999. Prost had plans to replace it with a new bigger facility near Guyancourt and a site was chosen but there was never enough money to begin work.
Inside the factory the team has a variety of machinery including autoclaves, five-axis cutting machines and computers all of which could be useful to either Renault of Asiatech.
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