MARCH 6, 2000

Prost hints at problems with the new Peugeot V10

ALAIN PROST has hinted that the new Peugeot V10 Formula 1 engine has been a big disappointment to the team. The engines were late in arriving because the casting of the blocks had to be modified because of a problem of gas leaking from the combustion chamber. Then the blocks began cracking. This was eventually traced to a manufacturing problem. In testing to date the new A20 engines have not been very powerful with Peugeot engineers saying they produce 780 horsepower. There have also been major problems with the electronic systems. Prost said that such "teething troubles" are not unusual but that the team is going to pay a high price for the delays, "mainly with the engine".

Prost added that the engine is not "exactly what was anticipated".

"There have without doubt been major improvements in size and weight, which greatly helped us in the conception and construction of the car," he commented. "But as regards performance, we will have to wait until the first European Grand Prix at Imola, where we should have the first major evolution of the engine - notably the variable length intakes that we had initially hoped to have in Melbourne."

Peugeot says that it hopes to reach 800 horsepower by the mid-season when a new evolution of the engine will be ready for the French Grand Prix.

Prost's comments are being seen as thinly-veiled criticism for the French car manufacturer and this would seem to underline the widely-held belief that Prost will switch to a new engine supplier in 2001, leaving Peugeot to withdraw from Formula 1 and concentrate on the World Rally Championship program with the Peugeot 206 which is already rather more successful than the F1 program. Peugeot Sport has been building F1 engines since 1994 and has never won an F1 race.