Prost Grand Prix F1 Logo

Historic

Prost

French

  • Prost Gauloises Blondes Official Name
  • Guyancourt, France Base
  • 1997 F1 Debut
  • Alain Prost Team Boss
  • n/a Technical Chief
  • 0 World Championships

Prost Grand Prix was established in 1997 when Alain Prost took over the Ligier team, rebranding it with his own name. The move was seen as the culmination of Prost’s illustrious career in Formula 1, transitioning from a driver to a team principal. The team was based in France, continuing the French heritage of Ligier.

Notable Team Members and Drivers

Alain Prost: The team’s founder and principal, Alain Prost, brought his extensive experience and understanding of F1 to the team. His vision was creating a competitive outfit to challenge the established teams.

Olivier Panis: One of the most notable drivers for Prost, Panis had previously won the Monaco Grand Prix with Ligier in 1996.

Jean Alesi: The experienced French driver joined Prost in 2000 and brought a wealth of experience to the team, although his success on the track was limited.

Nick Heidfeld: The German driver, who later went on to have a long career in Formula 1, drove for Prost in 2000.

Alain Prost harboured ambitions to acquire the Ligier team as early as 1992, and he even secretly tested their 1992 car while disguised in Érik Comas’s helmet, contemplating a dual role as driver and owner. His lap times were impressively competitive. At the time, Ligier was powered by Renault engines and used Elf lubricants, which were both French companies with strong ties to Prost, especially following his departure from Ferrari at the end of 1991. Prost aimed to include John Barnard, the designer behind his championship-winning McLaren in 1985 and 1986, in his venture. Despite the promise, the deal unravelled just before the 1992 season opener in South Africa, leading Prost to take a hiatus for the season. He later joined Williams, another team with Renault engines, in 1993, clinching his fourth world championship before retiring from racing.

In the interim, Cyril Bourlon de Rouvre acquired Ligier, under whose ownership the team saw improved competitiveness in the mid-90s. However, after de Rouvre faced a fraud conviction, he sold Ligier to Flavio Briatore and Tom Walkinshaw of Benetton in early 1994. For Briatore, this acquisition was strategically aimed at securing Renault engines for Benetton, which was then the leading power unit in Formula 1. Initially appointed as team boss, Walkinshaw left due to disagreements with Briatore, purchasing Arrows and taking key designer Frank Dernie with him.

Prost finalised the purchase of Ligier in February 1997, following months of speculation. He swiftly rebranded the team to Prost, running Mugen-Honda engines. With no time to develop a new car for the season, the team repurposed the Ligier JS45, designed by Loïc Bigois, and rebranded it as the Prost JS45.

From 1998, the team benefitted from strong technical partnerships, including engines supplied by Peugeot. However, the relationship between Prost and Peugeot was fraught with challenges, and the performance of the engines often did not meet expectations, hampering its ability to consistently challenge for points and podiums.

The downfall of Prost Grand Prix which began in 2000 and culminated in 2001. This period in the team’s history was characterised by challenges from driver changes, engine partnership issues, and, ultimately, financial difficulties that led to the team’s bankruptcy.

In 2000, Prost Grand Prix fielded Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld as its driver lineup. Alesi, a seasoned veteran, brought experience and leadership to the team, while Heidfeld, a newcomer to Formula 1, was considered a promising talent. Despite their efforts, the team struggled to compete where they wanted to. The AP03, designed for the 2000 season, was not competitive, suffering from aerodynamic and reliability issues. The powerful but unreliable Peugeot engines compounded these problems.

The 2001 season saw the team continue with Jean Alesi and brought in Gastón Mazzacane to replace Heidfeld. However, Mazzacane was replaced mid-season by Luciano Burti. The team’s financial situation became increasingly dire over the year with little sponsorship and the expensive development costs for the AP04. The partnership with Peugeot also ended after the 2000 season, forcing Prost to switch to Ferrari engines, rebranded as Acer, for 2001. While the Ferrari engines were a step up in terms of performance and reliability, the financial burden of the engine deal added to the team’s issues.

As the 2001 season progressed, it became clear that Prost Grand Prix was in a precarious position. The team’s performance on the track did not improve significantly, and the financial struggles became public knowledge. Attempts to secure new investors and sponsors failed, and the team’s debts continued to mount. By the end of 2001, Prost Grand Prix could not sustain its operations and was declared bankrupt.

Prost Grand Prix F1 Legacy

The bankruptcy of Prost Grand Prix marked the end of an era for the team and left many of its employees and stakeholders in difficult positions. The team’s assets were liquidated, and its headquarters and facilities were sold off.

In 2002, Charles Nickerson, a businessman associated with Phoenix Finance, purchased the team’s assets and entry slot. This led to a short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to enter the team in the 2002 season under the name Phoenix Finance Racing. The FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, blocked this effort as they had not adequately purchased the team’s entry from the Prost administration.

Prost Grand Prix Formula One World Championship Records

First entry1997 Australian Grand Prix
Races entered83
Constructors’ Championships0
Drivers’ Championships0
Race victories0 (best finish: 2nd, 1997 Spanish Grand Prix and 1999 European Grand Prix)
Podiums3
Points35
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
Final entry2001 Japanese Grand Prix

Prost Grand Prix Championship Results

YearNameCarDriversPointsWCC
1997Prost Gauloises BlondesJS45Jarno Trulli
Olivier Panis
Shinji Nakano
216th
1998Gauloises Prost PeugeotAP01Jarno Trulli
Olivier Panis
19th
1999Gauloises Prost PeugeotAP02Jarno Trulli
Olivier Panis
97th
2000Gauloises Prost PeugeotAP03Jean Alesi
Nick Heidfeld
0NC
2001Prost AcerAP04Tomas Enge
Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Luciano Burti
Gaston Mazzacane
Jean Alesi
49th

Previous/Next Team Names

Team Nationality Debut Season Status
Matra French 1967 Historic
Ligier French 1976 Historic