JANUARY 27, 1997
Prost, Ligier and Peugeot
AT the launch of the new Ligier in Monte Carlo last week team owner Flavio Briatore confirmed that he is negotiating to sell the team to Alan Prost.
"I hope we will reach an agreement," said Briatore, "but I don't know when. If there is an agreement, very well, but if not, we will continue to work. Ligier is now almost a top team."
At the weekend, however, the Journal de Dimanche newspaper in France ran a story suggesting that Prost is already the owner of the team and is waiting until after Jordan launches its 1997 program to announce that he has got Peugeot engines for 1998. According to the newspaper Peugeot was planning to pull out of F1 until approached by Prost and convinced that, with Renault pulling out and some of its F1 staff being available in 1998, Peugeot could become a competitive proposition. The French Justice Minister Jacques Toubon appears to have been involved in the talks. As part of the deal Benetton will get Ligier's Mugen Honda V10 engines in 1998 to replace its Renaults. John Barnard will join from Ferrari - and will probably work in England - while Hugues de Chaunac will be team manager of "Prost Grand Prix" which will move from Magny-Cours to Paul Ricard.
Major sponsorship for the project is said to be coming from an American food company, rumored to be an offshoot of Philip Morris - perhaps Kraft.
The article also mentioned the fact that the top team's choice for a driver for 1998 would be Jean Alesi.
It remains to be seen how much of this will actually come true...