Prost criticises Renault

Four times world champion Alain Prost has criticised Renault's decision to sign Jacques Villeneuve for the final three races of the season - and claimed he is not surprised that the French-Canadian has failed to score any points so far

Prost criticises Renault

Prost, who drove from Renault from 1981 to 1983, believes that the French car manufacturer was wrong to believe that it could slot Villeneuve into his team and expect him to score points after almost a whole year out of the car.

He believes that it would have been far more logical for Renault to promote test driver Franck Montagny to the race seat - because he already has far more experience of the R24 chassis.

"One can consider it regrettable that it wasn't him [Montagny] that was picked to race in the last three grands prix," said Prost in an interview with French TV channel TF1. "Honestly, I do not understand Renault's choice and Flavio Briatore's decision.

"It is his driver who is under contract, and independently to the fact that he [Montagny] is French, he is the third driver, a test driver, who deserved to get some experience over the last three grands prix. If Renault wants to fight for the title next year, I think it is good and valuable to have a driver who has already raced the car. Because tests are one thing and the race another. That would have given him an incomparable test."

Prost believes that the fact Villeneuve has not scored points in his two outings so far owes more to the fact that he had not driven since the 2003 United States Grand Prix, rather than any sign of a lack of talent. His conclusion comes from personal experience - after he confessed to having difficulties during early 1993 after his sabbatical the previous season.

"I am not surprised that Villeneuve hasn't scored points yet, that has nothing to do with his talent. I think that to be in a team that needs points badly puts you under pressure, especially when you have been away from F1 for a certain time, and I am speaking from experience here as I did the same after having tested a lot. It is very difficult to find your way automatically, especially over the duration of a grand prix.

"It would be possible during a flying lap, but it is very difficult over the duration of a grand prix. It would be even more abnormal to arrive like that for the last three grands prix, on tough circuits and to be immediately at the top.

"I had troubles, much more than I thought I would have had, coming back after a year off in 1992. I was however, well prepared physically, but despite everything that one can do with their physical preparation, it does not replace driving in the car.

"One loses a little his reflexes, especially the relationship with the car, the team or the environment because we know we will be closely watched and that the smallest problem will be analysed. Therefore you lose this crucial parameter, the serenity that makes up the strength or weakness of a driver, that makes up the strength of Michael Schumacher today for example."

Prost also believes that Villeneuve's short spell at Renault could have long-term consequences because the French-Canadian will be able to take his knowledge of the team's chassis and Michelin tyres to Sauber and Bridgestone next year.

"Villeneuve will go to Sauber next year, with different tyres, and he will carry with him some knowledge, and I do not find that very good or smart, and I think that Montagny is the one who is more deserving to enter Formula 1," said Prost.

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