FEBRUARY 4, 2002
Who goes where from Prost GP?
THE liquidation of Prost Grand Prix will free up a number of team personnel to work with other Formula 1 teams. The team's managing-director Joan Villadelprat will be one man who should soon be snapped up. He ran Benetton for most of the 1990s before trying to establish his own team with backing from Telefonica. The bid to buy Minardi failed and so Villadelprat moved to Prost. It is possible that the new Renault F1 team would like to have him as part of the team.
Prost technical director Henri Durand is also likely to be a man in demand as he spent 10 years with McLaren before moving to Prost as technical director last year. Durand was not able to have much influence on the Prost AP04 but his development work in the course of the season did improve the performance of the car. A number of top teams are believed to be interested in signing the Toulouse engineer, who came out of French space program in 1984 to join Ligier. He went to Ferrari in 1987 and worked on the revolutionary 639-640 chassis before moving to McLaren in 1990.
Also worth watching will be Prost's chief designer Jean-Paul Gousset, a man who came to F1 from the Citroen rally raid program in 1993 when he joined Team Lotus. After Lotus closed he worked in research and development at Lotus Engineering before being taken on by Arrows. He then moved on to Prost.
Prost's chief track engineer Vincent Gaillardot was also a former Arrows man after cutting his teeth with ORECA, DAMS and Renault Sport. Gaillardot is rare in that he is qualified both as a chassis and a motor engineer. While at Renault Sport he worked with Williams, Ligier and Benetton so he is widely known in the F1 paddock.
Another man who may be in demand is composite specialist Ian Thomson who spent nearly 10 years at Sauber before moving to Prost.
The other point of note about the closure of Prost is that it will free up John Barnard's B3 Technologies to work for other F1 teams. Barnard has not been able to do much in recent seasons because of a lack of budget but he remains one of the most influential thinkers in the sport and runs a tidy design and fabrication business in Shalford in the former headquarters of Ferrari Design and Development.
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