Prost Grand Prix

Prost Grand Prix was a Formula One racing team owned and managed by four-time Formula One world champion Alain Prost. The team participated in five seasons from 1997 to 2001.

Prost logo
Full nameProst Grand Prix
BaseGuyancourt, Yvelines, France
Founder(s)Alain Prost
Noted staffBernard Dudot
John Barnard
Loïc Bigois
Noted driversFrance Olivier Panis
Italy Jarno Trulli
France Jean Alesi
Germany Nick Heidfeld
Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Previous nameEquipe Ligier
Formula One World Championship career
First entry1997 Australian Grand Prix
Races entered83
0 (best finish: 6th, 1997)
Race victories0 (best finish: 2nd, 1997 Spanish Grand Prix and 1999 European Grand Prix)
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
Final entry2001 Japanese Grand Prix


Purchase of Ligier

Alain Prost completed the purchase of the Ligier team in early 1997, and immediately changed the name to Prost. An exclusive contract for Peugeot engines was announced for 1998, but the team continued with Ligier's planned Mugen-Honda engines for 1997. As there was no time before the season started to design and build a new car, the team simply used the Ligier JS45 designed by Loïc Bigois and renamed it the Prost JS45. Podium finishes in Brazil (third) and Spain (second) for Olivier Panis promised much, but the Frenchman crashed heavily at high speed in Canada, breaking both his legs.

With its lead driver forced to miss much of the season, Prost struggled with novices Jarno Trulli and Shinji Nakano until Panis's return at the Luxembourg Grand Prix. There were glimpses, a commanding drive by Trulli in Austria where he led for much of the race before his engine expired, and a run by Trulli again to fourth at Germany showed potential, and a dogged points finish for Panis on his return in Luxembourg meant that Prost wasted no time in signing the pair up for a further season.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve later remarked that in the year of his title victory, he had regarded Panis as something of a threat. Panis had been fastest in Spain, and was running right behind Villeneuve in Argentina when his car gave up on him. He was close to winning in Canada too as his Bridgestone tyres were better equipped than the Goodyear tyred cars around him.

Olivier Panis 1998
Olivier Panis driving for the Prost Grand Prix team in Montreal in 1998.

Problems and decline

After such a promising 1997, things took a turn for the worse in the following seasons. After serious gearbox problems in testing, the team almost did not start the 1998 season-opener as their car still had to pass a crash-test. They made it to the Australian Grand Prix, but the season proved to be a failure. Only Trulli's sixth at Spa kept the team from last in the standings. 1999 saw an improvement, several points finishes achieved and a second place coming by way of Trulli's strong drive at the Nürburgring. In the first few races, the team also ran with X-wings.

At times the car looked genuinely competitive with strong qualifying displays. Yet the results often failed to materialise. At Magny-Cours Panis had started third, but was unable to capitalise and finished outside the points. Trulli was under contract for 2000, but the team's relative lack of success enabled him to leave for Jordan. Panis was dropped and went on to become McLaren's tester.

Struggle for survival

In 2000 the team began its sharp decline. Veteran racer Jean Alesi, Prost's former teammate at Ferrari in 1991, was signed to the team. The team also signed up rookie F3000 champion Nick Heidfeld for 2000.

Despite a promising driver lineup, Prost finished last in the Constructors Championship, failing to score a single point during the season. Heidfeld was disqualified from the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring for his car being two kilos underweight. At the Austrian Grand Prix their two drivers crashed into each other, putting them both out of the race. The relationship between Prost and Peugeot collapsed.

Alesi 2001
Jean Alesi driving for Prost during 2001.

In 2001 the cars now ran with Acer-badged Ferrari engines. The season began with Alesi and ex-Minardi driver Gastón Mazzacane, but after four races, the latter was dropped from the team and replaced by Jaguar's Luciano Burti, who himself was replaced at Jaguar by Pedro de la Rosa. Alesi was very consistent, finishing every race, occasionally in points scoring positions, most notably in Canada when he did a few donuts afterwards and after getting out of the car, threw his helmet into the crowd. It was his best finish with the team. A fallout after the British Grand Prix, however, saw Alesi walk out after the German Grand Prix. For his final race with Prost, Alesi scored another championship point in that race of attrition. The first start for the race was red-flagged when Burti was launched into the air after crashing at high speed into the back of Michael Schumacher's ailing Ferrari just seconds off the line. Alesi moved to Jordan Grand Prix for the rest of the year, and was replaced at Prost by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who himself had been sacked from Jordan after Silverstone.

In Belgium, Frentzen qualified a surprising fourth on the grid after getting his first and only dry lap right in drying conditions, but threw it away when he stalled on the initial formation lap, the first of three red flags. The third one saw a long delay after a huge crash at the fastest part of the circuit involving Burti and Eddie Irvine's Jaguar. Burti was transported away from the circuit by helicopter and taken away for medical observation. At Monza, F3000 driver Tomáš Enge became the fifth driver to drive for the team in 2001. There would be no more points that year.

At the end of the season, speculation began surrounding the fate of the team in the light of its increasing debts. Finally, in early 2002 the team went bankrupt, just before the start of the season. Prost had been unable to raise enough sponsorship to keep the team afloat. Deeply hurt by the episode, Prost described it as a disaster for France. Frentzen had hoped to stay, but ended up at Arrows. The team never managed to replace the money that Gauloises stopped supplying when they withdrew their title sponsorship at the end of 2000.

Phoenix Finance's failed F1 entry

A consortium fronted by Phoenix Finance – run by Charles Nickerson, a friend of Arrows' Tom Walkinshaw – purchased the team's assets, believing that together with their purchase of old Arrows assets, specifically the engines, it would gain them entry for the 2002 season. However, the FIA viewed the consortium as a new entry (subject to an entry fee) and the project did not go ahead.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position)

Year Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Points WCC
France Olivier Panis 5 3 Ret 8 4 2 11 6 Ret 7
Italy Jarno Trulli 10 8 4 7 15 10 Ret
Japan Shinji Nakano 7 14 Ret Ret Ret Ret 6 Ret 11 7 6 Ret 11 Ret Ret Ret 10
France Olivier Panis 9 Ret 15 11 16 Ret Ret 11 Ret Ret 15 12 DNS Ret 12 11
Italy Jarno Trulli Ret Ret 11 Ret 9 Ret Ret Ret Ret 10 12 Ret 6 13 Ret 12
France Olivier Panis Ret 6 Ret Ret Ret 9 8 13 10 6 10 13 11 9 Ret Ret
Italy Jarno Trulli Ret Ret Ret 7 6 Ret 7 9 7 Ret 8 12 Ret 2 Ret Ret
France Jean Alesi Ret Ret Ret 10 Ret 9 Ret Ret 14 Ret Ret Ret Ret 12 Ret Ret 11
Germany Nick Heidfeld 9 Ret Ret Ret 16 EX 8 Ret 12 Ret 12 Ret Ret Ret 9 Ret Ret
France Jean Alesi 9 9 8 9 10 10 6 5 15 12 11 6
Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Ret 9 Ret 10 12
Argentina Gastón Mazzacane Ret 12 Ret Ret
Brazil Luciano Burti 11 11 Ret 8 12 10 Ret Ret Ret DNS
Czech Republic Tomáš Enge 12 14 Ret

External links

Coordinates: 48°47′1″N 2°4′2″E / 48.78361°N 2.06722°E

1997 Australian Grand Prix

The 1997 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 9 March 1997 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Albert Park, Melbourne. It was the first race of the 1997 FIA Formula One World Championship. It was the second Grand Prix to be hosted in Melbourne. The 58-lap race was won by McLaren driver David Coulthard after starting from fourth position. Michael Schumacher finished second for the Ferrari and Coulthard's teammate Mika Häkkinen was third.

Nicola Larini scored his last ever world championship points at this race.

2001 Japanese Grand Prix

The 2001 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 14 October 2001 at the Suzuka Circuit. It was the seventeenth and final race of the 2001 Formula One season. It was the 27th running of the Japanese Grand Prix and the 17th held at Suzuka.

The race was won by the World Champion, German driver Michael Schumacher driving a Ferrari F2001 after starting from pole position. It was Schumacher's fourth victory in the Japanese Grand Prix (expanding his own record), his third for Ferrari and his ninth for the 2001 season. Schumacher won by three seconds over Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya in a Williams FW23. Third was taken by British driver David Coulthard in a McLaren MP4-16, having overtaken his teammate Mika Häkkinen late in the race. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari F2001) and Ralf Schumacher (Williams FW23) completed the points finishers.

Schumacher set a new record for points in a season with 123 and biggest point margin to second-placed Coulthard with 58.

Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows A22) and Alex Yoong (Minardi PS01B) started the race from the pit lane. The race marked Jean Alesi's 201st and last Formula One race after a fourteen-year career. Kimi Räikkönen (Sauber C20) spun off on lap five, forcing Alesi (Jordan EJ11) off in avoidance at the Dunlop Curve (Turn 7). It was Alesi's only retirement of the season. It was, additionally, the last race for the French Prost Grand Prix team as they went bankrupt and closed down during the following off-season. It brought an end to the team which began as Equipe Ligier 32 years earlier and 26 years of Formula One racing. Mika Häkkinen scored his last ever World Championship points at this race.

2002 Formula One World Championship

The 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 56th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship, which commenced on 3 March and ended on 13 October after seventeen races.

The Drivers' Championship quickly became a battle for second place as Michael Schumacher finished first or second in every race except for the Malaysian Grand Prix, where he finished third, thus achieving a podium position in every race. He won a then-record 11 Grands Prix, surpassing the previous record of 9 wins, jointly held by himself (1995, 2000 and 2001) and Nigel Mansell (1992). He would also set the record for shortest time in which the World Drivers' Championship had been clinched, securing the title with a win at the French Grand Prix, with 6 races to go in the season. Schumacher took the Drivers' Championship by a then-record 67 point margin over teammate Rubens Barrichello, beating his own previous record for the 2001 season (58 points over David Coulthard) and also gained a new point total record with 144 points. Schumacher and Barrichello helped Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro secure the Constructors' Championship with a points total that equalled the combined sum of points attained by all other constructors collectively. For the 2003 championship, the FIA would change the points system.

Alain Prost

Alain Marie Pascal Prost OBE (born 24 February 1955) is a retired French racing driver and a four-time Formula One Drivers' Champion. From 1987 until 2001 Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories and is considered as one of the greatest F1 drivers ever. Michael Schumacher surpassed Prost's total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category.Prost discovered karting at the age of 14 during a family holiday. He progressed through motor sport's junior ranks, winning the French and European Formula Three championships, before joining the McLaren Formula One team in 1980 at the age of 24. He finished in the points on his Formula One début at the San Martin Autodrome in Buenos Aires, Argentina (where he took his first podium a year later) and took his first race victory at his home Grand Prix in France a year later, driving for the factory Renault team.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Prost formed a fierce rivalry mainly with Ayrton Senna, but also Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. In 1986, at the last race of the season, he beat Mansell and Piquet of Williams to the title after Mansell retired late on in the race, and Piquet was pulled in for a late precautionary pit stop. Senna joined Prost at McLaren in 1988 and the two had a series of controversial clashes, including a collision at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix that gave Prost his third Drivers' Championship. A year later at the same venue they collided again, but this time Prost, driving for Ferrari, lost out. Before the end of a winless 1991 season Prost was fired by Ferrari for his public criticism of the team. After a sabbatical in 1992, Prost joined the Williams team, prompting reigning Drivers' Champion Mansell to leave for CART. With a competitive car, Prost won the 1993 championship and retired from Formula One driving at the end of the year.In 1997, Prost took over the French Ligier team, running it as Prost Grand Prix until it went bankrupt in 2002. From 2003 to 2012 he competed in the Andros Trophy, which is an ice racing championship, taking 38 race victories and winning the championship 3 times.Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modelling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He was nicknamed "The Professor" for his intellectual approach to competition. Though it was not a name he particularly cared for, he would admit later that it was an appropriate summation of his approach to his racing. Skilled at setting up his car for race conditions, Prost would often conserve his brakes and tyres early in a race, leaving them fresher for a challenge at the end.

Arrows Grand Prix International

Arrows Grand Prix International was a British Formula One team active from 1978 to 2002. It was known as Footwork from 1991 to 1996.

Bernard Dudot

Bernard Dudot (French pronunciation: ​[beʁnaʁ dydo]) (born 30 January 1939) is a French engineer who was instrumental in the development of the turbo V6 and normally aspirated V10 engines of Formula One while working for Alpine and Renault. As of 2005, he is Head of Engineering of the GP2 Series. He has a similar role in GP3 Series since the creation of that category. He is also a consultant for Le Mans organisation.

Bleu de France (colour)

Bleu de France (Blue of France) is a colour traditionally used to represent France. Blue has been used in the heraldry of the French monarchy since at least the 12th century, with the golden fleurs-de-lis of the kings always set on a blue (heraldic "azure") background. A brighter version, based on the blue of the French Tricolour, is used in modern times, particularly in a sporting context. French national teams in all sports will normally use blue as their main colour.

Blue is France's national racing colour, therefore several French motorsport teams have used it, including Alpine, Amilcar, Ballot, Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, Gordini, Ligier, Mathis, Matra, Panhard, Pescarolo Sport, Prost Grand Prix, Rondeau, Salmson, Talbot-Lago, Voisin. The two notable exceptions are Citroën and Renault: the former has used red and white, whereas the latter has used yellow and black.

Emmanuel Collard

Emmanuel Collard (born 3 April 1971) is a French professional racing driver. He is a former member of the Porsche Junioren factory team, but also drives for other marques.

Born in Arpajon, Essonne, Collard is the winner of the Le Mans Series for Pescarolo Sport in 2005 and 2006 with Jean-Christophe Boullion and in 2011 for Pescarolo Team with Julien Jousse. He co-drove the overall winner of the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring.

He also was the Formula One test driver for Prost Grand Prix in 1997, Benetton in the late 1990s and Ligier-Ford in 1990.

Equipe Ligier

Equipe Ligier is a motorsport team, best known for its Formula One team that operated from 1976 to 1996. The team was founded in 1968 by former French rugby union player Guy Ligier as a sports car manufacturer.

Formula One 2001 (video game)

Formula One 2001 is a racing video game for PlayStation, and PlayStation 2 developed by Studio 33 (PS) and Sony Studio Liverpool (PS2) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The PlayStation 2 version was the first game to support the Logitech GT Force racing wheel.

Formula One 2001 was the last simulation Formula One game to appear on the original PlayStation. It was also the last game in the series released in North America before the 2005 release of F1 Grand Prix for the PlayStation Portable.

Joan Villadelprat

Joan Villadelprat is the Spanish team principal of race team Epsilon Euskadi. He worked for McLaren, Ferrari and Tyrrell Racing before joining Benetton Formula. He was formerly Operations Director and Team Manager at Benetton Formula until 1999, he then worked for Prost Grand Prix as managing director. After the closure of Prost Grand Prix he left Formula 1.

Jonathan Cochet

Jonathan Cochet (born 4 January 1977 in Alençon, France) is a French racing driver. He won the Championnat de France Formule Renault in 1997. He was a test driver for Prost Grand Prix in 2001, and he was also a test driver with the Renault Formula One team in 2006.

Loïc Bigois

Loïc Bigois (born 19 September 1960 in Aix-en-Provence, France) is a Formula One aerodynamicist.

After studying engineering in Paris and Aix-en-Provence, Bigois relocated to Toulouse and began working in the aerospace industry. He was recruited by the Ligier F1 team in 1990 and for several years moved between the mid-field teams. In the late 1990s he returned to Ligier and remained as Chief Designer through the transition to Prost Grand Prix before being recruited by Minardi to become their Head of Aerodynamics in mid-2001.

In 2003 he was recruited by Williams as Aerodynamicist. In 2005 he succeeded Antonia Terzi as Chief Aerodynamicist. Bigois worked alongside Jörg Zander who replaced Gavin Fisher as Chief Designer in September 2005. Both Bigois and Zander worked under Technical Director Sam Michael.

On 2 July 2007, it was announced that he had agreed to join the Honda Racing F1 team and as a result, was suspended by Williams.In 2009, the team was reformed as Brawn GP but Bigois continued in the role of Head of Aerodynamics. Brawn GP subsequently won both the Drivers' and Constructors' championships, leading to Bigois being awarded the Dino Toso Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year Award.Bigois was the Head of Aerodynamics at Mercedes GP which bought out Brawn GP following their double championship winning season until he decided to leave the team in June 2012.Following his departure from the Mercedes team, rumours emerging in Italian (Autosprint) and French (AutoHebdo) newspapers linked Bigois with the Maranello-based team Scuderia Ferrari. Bigois would join Ferrari as Head of Aerodynamics before the end of the year, after a long period of gardening leave.

Minardi M197

The Minardi M197 was the car with which the Minardi Formula One team competed in the 1997 Formula One season. It was initially driven by Ukyo Katayama, who moved from Tyrrell, and Jarno Trulli, the reigning German Formula Three champion. However, Trulli would be called up to Prost Grand Prix following Olivier Panis' serious accident in Montréal, and the team would select part-time 1996 driver Tarso Marques to take over his vacated seat.

The year saw investment from Fondmetal, ensuring the team's budget. The car was a neat chassis but had an underpowered (albeit well-prepared) V8 engine from Brian Hart, which left the team at the bottom of the grid, although the newly acquired Bridgestone tyres did allow them to occasionally challenge Tyrrell. Minardi also had the satisfaction of comfortably beating debutants MasterCard Lola, despite the British team's experience in motor racing.

The team were unclassified in the Constructors' Championship, with no points.

Phoenix Finance

Phoenix Finance (otherwise known as DART Grand Prix) was a British banking company which attempted to enter the 2002 and 2003 Formula One seasons. Charles Nickerson was Managing Director of the company.

Sauber C20

The Sauber C20 was the car with which the Sauber Formula One team competed in the 2001 Formula One season. It was powered by a Petronas-branded '01A' 3.0-litre V10, supplied by Scuderia Ferrari. The C20 was notable not only for its eventual position in the Constructors' World Championship but also for a new type of front suspension mounting: the "twin keel".


Sparco S.p.A is an Italian auto part and accessory company headquartered in Volpiano, Turin, Italy that specializes in producing items such as seats, steering wheels, harnesses, racewear and helmets. Sparco branded alloy wheels are produced under licence by OZ Group. They also sponsor many types of auto races including rallies, single-seaters.

Stéphane Sarrazin

Stéphane Jean-Marc Sarrazin (born 2 November 1975) is a French professional racing driver. He has won races across a number of single-seater, sportscar and rallying disciplines and competitions, was French Formula Renault champion in 1994, and Le Mans Series champion in both 2007 and 2010. He has finished on the podium six times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, including four outright second positions, although he has never won. He participated in one Formula One Grand Prix, the 1999 Brazilian Grand Prix, for Minardi as a replacement for Luca Badoer, who had injured his wrist. He suffered a big spin in the race coming up to the start-finish straight on lap 31 and scored no championship points. He also carried out testing duties for the Prost Grand Prix team during the 1999–2001 Formula One seasons and for Toyota Racing in their first season in 2002.

France Prost Grand Prix
2019 season


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