Williams-Renault FW15C 1993
The diminutive, curly-haired Frenchman drove like poetry and, had fate taken a different turn, could easily have reached the magic seven long before Michael Schumacher later did. Alain Prost, nicknamed “The Professor,” won four F1 World Championships, missed another by a margin of just 1/2 point (to Niki Lauda in 1984) and, until finally bested by Schumacher in the 2002 season, posted the most race wins of any Formula One driver in history. Prost’s scientific, methodical approach to racing set him apart from many of his contemporaries, and led to a series of magnificent duels with his teammate and arch-rival Aryton Senna.
Alain progressed through motor sport’s junior ranks, winning the French and European Formula 3 championships, before joining the McLaren F1 team in 1980 at the age of 25. He finished in the points on his Formula One debut and took his 1st GP victory at his home race in France a year later (by a mere 2.3s over John Watson), while with Renault’s factory team. Prost may not have had the intensity of Senna or the outright domination of Schumacher. He wasn’t a prodigy like Lewis Hamilton or a grand old man like Juan Manuel Fangio. But there is no doubt in the minds of those who study and follow the sport’s rich history that this pilot was one of the most phenomenal drivers to have graced a Formula One race track.
In 1988, his first season as a teammate to Aryton Senna with McLaren, Prost won seven GPs and outscored Senna by 11 points, despite Senna winning one more race than Prost. However, only the 11 best results from the season counted toward the World Championship total, giving Senna the title by three points. Prost went on to be a proponent of essentially the 90′s scoring system — all race results counting for the season standings and with a GP winner scoring 10, not 9, points. Aside from the now-infamous contretemps with Senna at Suzuka that decided the 1989 and 1990 World Championships. perhaps Prost’s single most memorable moment was in 1991 — after moving to Ferrari — when he publicly described the Scuderia’s ’91 car as a “truck,” was rather unceremoniously sacked and thence took a year-long “sabbatical” from racing. The action photo below is from the Canadian GP in Prost’s final Formula One season (a race the F1A&G webmaster attended with his ex-wife and then two-year old son) when Alain came out of retirement to take over Nigel Mansell’s seat at Williams and drove the brilliant FW15C, the last of the “active
I always work the same way, starting from the beginning of the weekend, so I know at the beginning of the race, from all that I have analysed during the practice, whether I will win the race or not.
— Alain Prost —
suspension” F1 cars, to a dominating championship. His victory was overshadowed to a large extent, however, by the extraordinary performance of Senna in a less-competitive McLaren, including dazzling wins in several wet races that confirmed Senna’s status as the “rain master.”
Prost retired from F1 after the 1993 season, made a brief reconciliation with Senna just prior to the Brazilian’s untimely 1994 death, and returned to Grand Prix racing in the 1997 season by purchasing the famed French Team Ligier, renamed Prost GP. The Prosts never proved particularly competitive, owing in part to the massive development costs and technical challenge of modern F1 specifications, but in that regard Prost for several years shared the back of the F1 grid with Jaguar Racing (formerly Stewart Grand Prix), the offspring of another famed Formula One World Champion, Jackie Stewart. Prost GP failed after the 1992 season, being unable to raise enough sponsorship to keep the team afloat — with Prost himself describing it as as a disaster for France. Alain currently resides in Nyon, Switzerland.
|Alain Prost’s Career Profile|
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Other Alain Prost Sites
Formula1.com Hall of Fame
Biography by Dennis David
BBC’s Greatest F1 Drivers
AutoSport—F1′s Greatest Drivers
ESPN F1 Profile
McLaren Heritage Profile
F1 Pulse Profile
Alain Prost Video