AUGUST 25, 2001
Prost looks for stability in 2002
AFTER a torrid year in 2001 that has seen the pre-season promise of its link-up with Ferrari dashed, sponsor funds fail to materialize and a total of four drivers appear in the race team, Alain Prost has set his hopes on achieving some stability in his team in 2002.
He seems keen to retain the services of Jordan refugee Heinz-Harald Frentzen who made a solid job of demolishing his team mate Luciano Burti in an unfamiliar car running on unfamiliar tires and powered by an unfamiliar engine in last weekend's Hungarian Grands Prix and who is renowned for his technical abilities with a Formula 1 car.
"We need a top driver in this team who will make everything easier and better," Prost said. "It's going to be difficult for him, because we know that we cannot develop the current car too much. But his job is to do the best possible, and to push the team in a good direction, especially for the next car. Then I hope he will stay with us next year."
Prost is still adamant that he will retain the $27 million a year engine deal with Scuderia Ferrari Per for his year-old engines and, it is believed the ancillary equipment such as gearbox and rear suspension. There have been whispers from within Ferrari that Prost was struggling to meet the supply bill, meaning that the most likely powers source for 2002 would be the currently empty contract with Asiatech for a free supply of its Peugeot-derived units, but Prost reacted angrily to the speculation.
"Everybody can come to the factory and look through our books," he said. "They will soon see that we have paid for the engine already from last year. We haven't owed a single dollar to Ferrari for a long time.
"We have to fix a few things but we have a very good relationship with them and I hope to have a positive answer very soon."