Prost to sell up?

It has emerged that Alain Prost may be on the point of selling his eponymous Formula 1 team, according to a story in this week's Autosport magazine

Prost to sell up?

"I have proposals to sell the team, but nothing is done," admitted Prost after a disastrous Austrian Grand Prix in which both cars took each other out. After several uncompetitive seasons, and an increasingly uphill struggle to source an engine for next year, it appears Prost might be ready to throw in the towel.

Two consortiums are suggested to be interested in buying Prost out; the first is Bertelsman CLT, a German media company, which has links with Prost through marketing the team; the second is a Canadian group known as Onex.

Rumours abound about Onex, including the suggestion that former F1 team boss (of the late 80s Onyx team) Mike Earle is involved, and that the team already has an engine which takes the current F1 trend of light weight and compact dimensions to new extremes.

Prost took over the Ligier squad at the start if the 1997 season, and initially the partnership looked to be very promising. Olivier Panis made use of competitive Bridgestone tyres and Mugen Honda powerplant to score regular podium finishes, and Jarno Trulli led much of the Austrian Grand Prix in his first season in F1 in the Benetton-derived JS45. However, when the team moved to Paris and switched to Peugeot power, the initial competitiveness was lost, and the team has struggled ever since.

As a result, Prost is likely to lose three of its major sponsors, including Seita, the French tobacco company, whose involvement with the team goes back to the Ligier heyday of the late 70s.

Driver Jean Alesi had pledged his support to the team, and claimed he was willing to stay, but if Prost himself leaves, Alesi is likely to depart. The French-Sicilian has had talks with Sauber and BAR.


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