SEPTEMBER 3, 2001
A chance for Enge?
WITH Luciano Burti still in the hospital in Liege on Monday night, there is a distinct possibility that he will not be fit to race at the Italian Grand Prix in 10 days from now.
The Prost team will have to decide what is its best course of action as the team's test drivers Stephane Sarrazin and Jonathan Cochet have not had much time in the cars this year and neither has a great deal of F1 experience. Sarrazin did one Grand Prix for Minardi in 1999 standing in for the injured Luca Badoer in the Brazilian Grand Prix. He did a good job until a front wing failure caused him to have a spectacular accident. He was passed over by Prost at the end of 1999 and since then his career was faded badly. Cochet is a rising star but he has very little F1 experience beyond doing aerodynamic mapping work.
The option would be to put Formula 3000 driver Tomas Enge in to the car for a one-off race. Enge has been racing all year (unlike Sarrazin and Cochet) and although he has no F1 experience beyond a few days of testing for Jordan a couple of years ago, he will be running a three-day test with the team this week at Magny-Cours.
It would be a good move in terms of publicity for Prost as Enge would become the first Eastern European racer in modern history to compete in F1 and that is likely to bring massive TV audiences in the old Eastern Bloc countries where Enge is a big name, thanks to his successes in Formula 3000 with the Coca-Cola Nordic Racing team. The option for Prost would be to try to hire a Formula 1 test driver from another team although he might also be tempted to give Oriol Servia a run. The CART youngster has done several tests with the team and is used to F1 levels of power from his CART races.