MAY 5, 1997
Prost goes to Versailles
AS we predicted in March, Alain Prost is to move his Formula 1 team from Magny-Cours to a new headquarters which will be built near the town of Versailles, in the south-western suburbs of Paris, close to Louis XIV's world-famous chateau.
The plans announced by the mayor of Versailles Etienne Pinte - who belongs to Jacques Chirac's ruling Republican party - include a 45,000 sq. ft research and development building and a 22,500 sq. ft workshop. Work will start as soon as possible on the new facility - which will be built on land owned by GIAT (the electronics and telecommunications company).
The size of the factory and the timing of the move (at a time when a team would be working flat out on producing new chassis) indicate that Prost is probably not planning to build chassis at Satory. A state-of-the-art F1 factory, such as the Benetton facility, is around 85,000 sq. ft in size (without the windtunnel extension now being built).
We expect to hear within a few weeks that Reynard Racing Cars will be building Prost chassis in England.
The team - formerly called Ligier - has been based at Magny-Cours since it moved there from Vichy in 1988. The intention at the time was to build up a motor racing industry at Magny-Cours around the team and, to some extent, this was successful. The departure of the team is likely to have a profound effect and the local politicians are up in arms about the move.