SEPTEMBER 4, 1995
Prost tests for McLaren
THE curious "three driver" maneuvers currently going on in F1 might explain why McLaren boss Ron Dennis isn't at all worried about having far too many drivers for next season!
McLaren has Mika Hakkinen under contract already and is believed to have David Coulthard as well. In addition, Alain Prost has entered the picture, doing his first tests for McLaren-Mercedes at Silverstone last week. If this wasn't enough, Mark Blundell has been told that there will be something for him next year and the team's young test driver Jan Magnussen is also expected to remain in action.
Even without Blundell and with Magnussen continuing in his current testing role, McLaren would seem to have one too many drivers, despite the fact that Alain Prost refuses to say whether he intends to race or whether his role will only be for testing.
Prost has never been the most philanthropic of individuals and it is difficult to imagine that he will be satisfied to develop cars with which other drivers will win races. Prost logic would dictate that if they can win races so can he. Thus, the fact that he is testing for McLaren suggests that if the car and engine package for 1996 is any good, Alain will race it. The fact that he swore never to race again after Ayrton Senna's death should not be seen as a restriction, as such things are quickly forgotten in the F1 world.
Last week, in fact, Prost was busy telling pressmen that he had been misquoted at the time.
"What I said after Ayrton's accident," he told skeptical reporters, "was that when people asked me if I was able to drive again for Williams, I said I would never drive his car and never drive for his team. It is true that when I retired I said I would not race again. But I did not exclude the possibility of doing some testing - at the moment everything is correct. Maybe in the future it will be different."
The 40-year-old Frenchman clearly enjoyed his return to the F1 cockpit and will be doing more testing after this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
"In order to race next year I will have to be in a 100% situation," Prost said. "I need a good car, a good engine, lots of motivation and support from the team and sponsors. If there are any of these things missing, you cannot do it."
McLaren has said it will announce its 1996 driver line-up in October, but Prost is unlikely to decide to return to racing until he has tested next year's car to see if it has the potential to win him a fifth World Championship.