FEBRUARY 28, 2002
A twelfth team in 2002?
THERE are lots of rumors at the moment that there might still be 12 teams in Formula 1 this year but the reality is that there is no hope of such a thing. If anyone had the money available to save Prost it would have made sense to do that rather than buy up the assets and then have to pay a $48m bond to the FIA to start a new team. Prost could have been turned into a going concern for about $100m. The only issue would have been changing the name but that can bee agreed easily enough between the team owners if newcomers are sensible about their behavior.
Buying Prost's assets and people (who are already dissipating at speed), paying the FIA deposit and then running the team would cost more than $100m and there would be no TV money from the Formula One group of companies, which there would have been if Prost had been kept alive. This would have saved a further $8-10m.
In practical terms the situation is virtually impossible as well. The team could use the old cars and work to finish the half-built new chassis but that would be an enormous struggle. Minardi survived last year in similar circumstances but an awful lot of money was spent and there was little in the way of results. Paul Stoddart's goal was long-term and while a buyer for Prost's assets may have similar ideas, it would have been logical to buy Prost before it came apart.
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