JANUARY 22, 2002
The good news for (some) Prost staff
The future of the Prost Grand Prix team may not be clear at the moment but if the worst comes to the worst there is a good chance that a number of them will be able to find work just around the corner at Citroen Sport.
The team, run by former rally driver Guy Frequelin, is based at Satory, a kilometer or two from the Prost factory at Guyancourt and there are plans for this team to be built up gradually in the course of the next 12 months to prepare for a full three-car attack on the World Rally Championship in 2003 with the potent Citroen Xsara WRC, with which Sebastien Loeb won the Monte Carlo Rally last weekend.
Unlike some of the other rally teams Citroen Sport builds it own chassis and engines in-house so there is a demand for machinists and designers in addition to mechanics. It should also be noted that both Peugeot Sport and Renault Sport have major Paris-based competition programs at the moment and so these should also be able to soak up some of the Prost personnel if the team does not survive.
Having said that, the fact that there are delays in a decision from the judicial administrator would suggest that there are some worthy offers being analyzed. One rumor that is doing the rounds is that there is an Italian bid which involves Flavio Briatore (probably as a sleeping partner for the moment). Although he continues to insist that he will be staying at Renault Sport in the long-term, rumors in France continue to nudge Briatore towards the door and in the past he has always been careful to have an insurance policy if he does fall out with his employers.
When he was at Benetton he was the owner of the Ligier team and later, when that had been sold to Prost, owner of the Minardi team. When he was finally booted out by the Benetton Family he went into business as an engine-maker with Supertec and that led to a new job with Renault Sport.
If Briatore were to buy Prost he would probably leave it being run by his allies and we would expect to see people like Bruno Michel and Cesare Fiorio involved if this was the case.