Prost GP and Jean Alesi

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Prost GP and Jean Alesi

#1

Post by Picci »

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I have some questions / need insight from fellow members older than me who lived through the period when Prost took over Ligier and his relationship with Jean Alesi while he was driving for him.

I have been lately researching on the internet about how Alain Prost dealt with his team venture. When he took over Prost GP he was barely three years into retirement and I understand that he never tried to test his own car. Can anyone confirm this? Why did he prefer to rely on the other drivers?

Alesi was Prost’s teammate at Ferrari and then later on ended up driving for him. What was the dynamic like? Did Prost trust him more than other drivers? If I remember correctly I believe Alesi’s contract situation was rather fluid then, jumping to Jordan etc. Was this amicable?

I’m just trying to get closure on a period of F1 which I was too young to fully experience. Your thoughts are much appreciated!!
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#2

Post by Everso Biggyballies »

Picci wrote: 3 weeks ago Image

I have some questions / need insight from fellow members older than me who lived through the period when Prost took over Ligier and his relationship with Jean Alesi while he was driving for him.

I have been lately researching on the internet about how Alain Prost dealt with his team venture. When he took over Prost GP he was barely three years into retirement and I understand that he never tried to test his own car. Can anyone confirm this? Why did he prefer to rely on the other drivers?

Alesi was Prost’s teammate at Ferrari and then later on ended up driving for him. What was the dynamic like? Did Prost trust him more than other drivers? If I remember correctly I believe Alesi’s contract situation was rather fluid then, jumping to Jordan etc. Was this amicable?

I’m just trying to get closure on a period of F1 which I was too young to fully experience. Your thoughts are much appreciated!!
My recollections are that Alesi got dumped by Ferrari in favour of the Chin man. Jean went to Benetton, did fairly well but fell out with Briatore and left to join Sauber. Results were pretty so-so.

Prost and Alesi were good friends. Prost offered Alesi a gig for 2000 that in reality Alain oversold the concept of to Jean.... the dream of a totally French project, French owned, French Factory (Peugeot) engines, French (Gauloise) sponsorship, money for development , a French aero guy (Bigois) and designer (Gouusset)... although Alan Jenkins was TD. With Jean as the French #1 driver. Jean did his oft done decision from the heart rather than the brain and wanted to be part of this great French dream. He signed for 2000 on a two year deal

It was a dreadful year. DNF's, and barely a top 10 finish, and for the first time ever Jean failed to score a point all season. For 2001 Peugeot quit, and Mercedes and Supertec wouldnt support Prost. Eventually Ferrari did but via Acer branded (Ferrari engines). Acer were just badged Ferraris .... albeit a less powerful version of the Petronas engine. there were no updates to be part of the deal. The season started as 2000 had ended.

For Alesi the French dream was falling apart. Despite a point finally at Monaco Alesi had started to publicly be less than complimentary about the team. This upset Alain.... they had a gentlemen's agreement to never publicly decry each other. Alain said he was betrayed and yes they fell out. Not sure if it got to anything legal other than letters of mutual displeasure but bottom line their friendship was done. (They did in later years patch things up and rekindled their friendship.)

I dont believe Alesi was fired but he left after Germany by mutual arrangement certainly. Jean had been talking to Eddie Jordan... Eddie in turn was having problems with his relationship with HHF. . Eddie had a long history and Jean had won the F3000 title driving for Eddie. There must have been some 4 way interaction between Jordan Prost, HHF and JA because I remember Alesi to Jordan and HHF to Prost were both confirmed on the very same day.

I also remember how happy JA was to be rekindling his association with Eddie. Likewise how happy Prost was 'to get a driver the quality of HHF to drive Prost forward in its next chapter! (Prost F1 was out of money by year end and gone for 2002. HHF was with Sauber, Alesi retired.)

I do also remember Alesi's final race. I had long been a bit of an Alesi fan, but by 2001 I had a new F1 love, Kimi had arrived, I had seen him in FP1 on his F1 debut at Albert Park and had said to my friends this kid is good..... In Japan 2001 Jean bowed out having had a coming together with Kimi putting both out early in the race.

Bottom line summary of Prost and Alesi is yes they were great friends and shared this great French vision. It would be fare to say their friendship in my opinion meant Alain did trust Jean a lot more than others. Human nature says you trust and would enjopy working with friends more. Of course that friendship certainly soured and they fell out, publicly berating each other. (Perhaps Alain by retaliation). They agreeably split mid year (mutually agreed to part rather than amicably split)

@Michael Ferner might recall things differently, particularly the HHF side of it given the German link. Also he is younger than me and probably has a better memory! :haha: (I think he was still a bit of a secret / closet F1 fan going in to the new millennium!) :smiley:



Edit: Out of interest I found the Autosport story (from Atlas F1) announcing Alesi to Jordan and HHF to Prost.... as I. recalled, the same day.
https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/alesi ... 0/5057660/

If you cant access it let me know and I will copy it.

What the hell, why dont I add it anyway.... :wink:
FORMULA 1
Alesi Confirmed at Jordan; Frentzen Joins Prost

Jean Alesi joined Jordan for the rest of the 2001 season on Wednesday, after negotiations to get him out of his contract at Prost were successfully concluded.
Atlas F1
Aug 8, 2001, 10:30 PM

Jean Alesi joined Jordan for the rest of the 2001 season on Wednesday, after negotiations to get him out of his contract at Prost were successfully concluded.

At the same time, Prost announced signing Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the remainder of the season. The German spent much of yesterday at Prost's factory, in France.

"I am overjoyed," said Alesi following the official announcement. "Eddie launched me into Formula One so to race for him after all this time is something very special. Although I will not be able to test the car before racing in Hungary, I feel so motivated that I don't believe this will be a problem."

"I am delighted that Jean is joining us again," said Eddie Jordan. "His experience will be invaluable to us but equally important will be his energy and enthusiasm.

"He is a great motivator and will drive the Jordan with a real fire in his belly so we now have a charismatic and vibrant pairing which we hope will be translated into powerful results on the track."

"It is essential to preserve our team's serenity in this moment when we are building up Prost Grand Prix's future and consolidating our strategy for the upcoming years," Alain Prost said today. "This is why I chose to release Jean.

"I am delighted to welcome Heinz-Harald Frentzen in our team. His achievements in the last few years place him among the best drivers, and his large experience within top Formula One teams will be a strong asset for us for the remainder of the 2001 season. His arrival allows us to prepare the team’s future with confidence."

Frentzen himself said: "I am happy that Alain Prost offered me to drive for the last five Grands Prix. It was very difficult to turn down the opportunity to tackle this new challenge and I am looking forward to support the team for the rest of the season. "
Source link above

FWIW Jean finished 10th in his first F1 race for Jordan, but scored a point for 6th. at Belgium next race. Frentzem qualified 4th in the Prost but stalled on the warm up lap and started rear of grid.

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#3

Post by Vassago »

The team run out of money after a fallout with the Diniz family. However I believe Prost wanted to sell the team to anyone with a big enough wallet and the Diniz family didn't want to expand beyond 40% of shares they had in 2000.

The Prost/Alesi relationship didn't end quite well since Prost rescinded 1.2 million DM from his salary after 2001 French GP for "actions detrimental to the team".

https://www.spiegel.de/sport/formel1/fo ... 49083.html
Frentzen steigt bei Prost ein
In der Formel 1 ist ein spektakulärer Fahrertausch perfekt. Der von Jordan entlassene Heinz-Harald Frentzen wechselt zu Prost und ersetzt Jean Alesi, der beim irischen Rennstall anheuert.
08.08.2001, 13.15 Uhr

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Neuer Job, neues Glück?

Hamburg - Frentzen, der Ende Juli direkt vor dem Großen Preis von Deutschland auf dem Hockenheimring vom Jordan-Rennstall fristlos entlassen worden war, wird die letzten fünf Saisonrennen für das Prost-Team bestreiten. Das bestätigte der Rennstall des viermaligen Weltmeisters Alain Prost am Mittwochnachmittag.

Frentzens erster Einsatz für seinen neuen Arbeitgeber wird beim nächsten Grand Prix am 19. August in Budapest sein. "Ich freue mich darüber, dass Alain mir für den Rest der Saison sein Auto zur Verfügung stellt. Eine solche Gelegenheit wollte ich nicht ausschlagen", erklärte Frentzen am Mittwochnachmittag.

Teamchef Prost hält viel von Frentzen. "Ich war schon immer ein großer Fan von ihm. Durch seine Leistungen in den vergangenen Jahren steht er für mich auf einer Stufe mit den besten Fahrern", sagte der 46-Jährige, der den Deutschen schon vor zwei Jahren verpflichten wollte: "Jetzt hat es endlich geklappt."

"Freue mich auf die Zusammenarbeit"

"Meine Zusammenarbeit mit Prost ist eine neue Herausforderung, ich freue mich darauf, das Team für den Rest der Saison zu unterstützen", sagte Frentzen. Für die kommende Formel-1-Serie sucht der 34-Jährige jedoch weiter nach einer Startmöglichkeit in einem konkurrenzfähigen Team. Derzeit liegt der Prost-Rennstall in der Konstrukteurswertung nur auf dem drittletzten Rang.

Laut Frentzens Manager Ortwin Podlech gibt derzeit keine Optionen für die nächste Saison: "Es wurde über den bestehenden Vertrag hinaus nichts vereinbart." Noch immer halten sich hartnäckig Gerüchte, Frentzen werde 2002 für Toyota fahren. Der japanische Rennstall wird kommende Saison in die Formel 1 einsteigen.

Auch im Streit um die fristlose Kündigung durch Jordan zeichnet sich eine Lösung ab. Frentzen, der am Dienstag mit seinen Anwälten in England gewesen war, um die weiteren Schritte abzustimmen, soll angeblich weiterhin einen Teil seines Gehalts Lohn von Jordan beziehen - für den Rest dieser Saison und auch einen guten Teil der nächsten.

Der verlorene Sohn kehrt zu Jordan heim

Auch Jordan meldete hinsichtlich der Alesi-Verpflichtung Vollzug. Der Franzose wird den Rest dieser Formel-1-Saison für den irischen Rennstall fahren. "Ich freue mich, dass Jean wieder bei uns ist", erklärte Eddie Jordan auf der Team-Homepage. "Es ist etwas ganz Besonderes für mich, nach all den Jahren zu Jordan zurückzukehren", sagte Alesi, der vor zwölf Jahren für Jordan die Formel 3000 gewonnen hatte. Nach dem Frentzen-Rauswurf war Jordan-Testfahrer Ricardo Zonta beim Deutschland-Grand-Prix eingesprungen.

Alesi hat seinen bisherigen Arbeitgeber aber nicht gerade in Freundschaft verlassen. Prost hatte seinem Landsmann nach dem Großen Preis von Frankreich in Magny-Cours teamschädigendes Verhalten vorgeworfen und ihm aus diesem Grund umgerechnet rund 1,2 Millionen Mark vom Gehalt abgezogen.
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Eddie has since claimed on a podcast (don't remember which) that he was forced by Honda to get rid of HHF in favour of getting Takuma Sato in.
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Post by Michael Ferner »

Actually, I have only dim memories of this. By that time, my heart was no longer in it.
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Post by Everso Biggyballies »

Everso Biggyballies wrote: 3 weeks ago
I also remember how happy JA was to be rekindling his association with Eddie. Likewise how happy Prost was 'to get a driver the quality of HHF to drive Prost forward in its next chapter! (Prost F1 was out of money by year end and gone for 2002. HHF was with Sauber, Alesi retired .)

Just correcting. an error I made. In checking details of some of my facts posted yesterday I made an error with HHF in 2002. I said he went back to Sauber which was wrong. He didnt return there full time until 2003. I had completely forgotten about his starting 2002 with Orange Arrows, although by year end Arrows were no longer around. Their last race was Germany, with them failing to appear in Belgium. HHF did however, following the Arrows demise, do a one off with Sauber for the 2002 USGP before returning full time to Sauber for 2003.

That was his final year in F1, leaving at the end of 2003 to head to the at the time ISTR, fashionable F1 retirement home of DTM. Alesi himself having gone. from F1 to DTM in 2002.

(There were many other ex F1 drivers in DTM at the time, hence my F1 retirement home comment..... Albers, Alesi, JJ Lehto, Wedlinger, Cecotto, with too many to mention following in later years.....should mention the still in F1 to this day Bernd Maylander was perhaps using it as a springboard to his F1'career' rather than the other way..) :wink:

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Post by Ruslan »

Article on Jean Alesi from his point of view: https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/arch ... ean-alesi/
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Post by Nononsensecapeesh »

Everso Biggyballies wrote: 2 weeks ago
Everso Biggyballies wrote: 3 weeks ago
I also remember how happy JA was to be rekindling his association with Eddie. Likewise how happy Prost was 'to get a driver the quality of HHF to drive Prost forward in its next chapter! (Prost F1 was out of money by year end and gone for 2002. HHF was with Sauber, Alesi retired .)

Just correcting. an error I made. In checking details of some of my facts posted yesterday I made an error with HHF in 2002. I said he went back to Sauber which was wrong. He didnt return there full time until 2003. I had completely forgotten about his starting 2002 with Orange Arrows, although by year end Arrows were no longer around. Their last race was Germany, with them failing to appear in Belgium. HHF did however, following the Arrows demise, do a one off with Sauber for the 2002 USGP before returning full time to Sauber for 2003.

That was his final year in F1, leaving at the end of 2003 to head to the at the time ISTR, fashionable F1 retirement home of DTM. Alesi himself having gone. from F1 to DTM in 2002.

(There were many other ex F1 drivers in DTM at the time, hence my F1 retirement home comment..... Albers, Alesi, JJ Lehto, Wedlinger, Cecotto, with too many to mention following in later years.....should mention the still in F1 to this day Bernd Maylander was perhaps using it as a springboard to his F1'career' rather than the other way..) :wink:
Albers went full circle in that respect (DTM>F1>back to DTM)
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Post by Vassago »

On Frentzen, in the German article I posted his manager says they have no contract for 2002 season from anyone (it was August 2001 so rather late on the driver market) and the rumours linked him to the new Toyota team (maybe some oddball idea dating back to his Japanese F3000 days). I do remember the questions that Allan McNish would be too old to be given the full time seat but in the end both he and the second test driver Mika Salo got the go ahead if only Toyota had a completely new line-up in season two already.

Arrows and Sauber were the popular targets for newcomers or test drivers trying to elevate themselves from touring cars in the early 2000s. Gary Paffett was strongly linked to Sauber after winning the DTM title IIRC but then BMW bought Sauber out before the 2006 season and the door closed.
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Post by Everso Biggyballies »

A bit off the topic of Alesi and Prost but the name Paffett came up so.....

With Paffet he was very closely linked to McLaren/ Mercedes after karts and them dominating Formula Opel UK he was the McLaren Autosport Young DOTY competition which I believe came with F3 benefits.(maybe a 'B' class drive?) Anyway he won something major F3 wise in the UK and thn went Germn F3 in 2001 winning that, driving for Keke Rosberg's team dominating that. He had an F3000 gig locked in alongside Minassian for 2003 but that never materialised when they withdrew pre season. He then got a deal in DTM with Rosberg in a year old car and found his place in DTM.
Not sure if he had a year out of DTM when he was made a full. time tester with McLaren,. When Kimi left for Ferrari he was strongly linked to that seat but then Lewis snagged that. He then became I guess an F1 'gunner'.... gunner be this that and the other, after being released by McLaren due to his becoming linked to Honda F1. That fizzled out with Klien getting their testing role so back to McLaren testing. Then linked to Prodrive F1 which never happened.

Still messing around with DTM right through to when he finished again with Merc as Champion again but they were out of DTM and he went into Formula E.

A career of promise and expectation that never got him nearer to F1 than a reserve gig at Force India in 2012 when Bianchi had other committments. At the time he was still officially a McLaren F1 tester but that fizzled out when they took on Honda engines. I lost count aat the number of F1 linked reports I read of him as it always seemed more hope than eventuality. His last F1 gig was as Williams simulatorr driver c 2016. He was always regarded for his set up work but as said it never transpired beyond #3 status and a gunner do this gunner do that. Must have been a very frustrating career from an ambition pov but of course he was very successful in DTM.

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Post by Nononsensecapeesh »

Everso Biggyballies wrote: 2 weeks ago A bit off the topic of Alesi and Prost but the name Paffett came up so.....

With Paffet he was very closely linked to McLaren/ Mercedes after karts and them dominating Formula Opel UK he was the McLaren Autosport Young DOTY competition which I believe came with F3 benefits.(maybe a 'B' class drive?) Anyway he won something major F3 wise in the UK and thn went Germn F3 in 2001 winning that, driving for Keke Rosberg's team dominating that. He had an F3000 gig locked in alongside Minassian for 2003 but that never materialised when they withdrew pre season. He then got a deal in DTM with Rosberg in a year old car and found his place in DTM.
Not sure if he had a year out of DTM when he was made a full. time tester with McLaren,. When Kimi left for Ferrari he was strongly linked to that seat but then Lewis snagged that. He then became I guess an F1 'gunner'.... gunner be this that and the other, after being released by McLaren due to his becoming linked to Honda F1. That fizzled out with Klien getting their testing role so back to McLaren testing. Then linked to Prodrive F1 which never happened.

Still messing around with DTM right through to when he finished again with Merc as Champion again but they were out of DTM and he went into Formula E.

A career of promise and expectation that never got him nearer to F1 than a reserve gig at Force India in 2012 when Bianchi had other committments. At the time he was still officially a McLaren F1 tester but that fizzled out when they took on Honda engines. I lost count aat the number of F1 linked reports I read of him as it always seemed more hope than eventuality. His last F1 gig was as Williams simulatorr driver c 2016. He was always regarded for his set up work but as said it never transpired beyond #3 status and a gunner do this gunner do that. Must have been a very frustrating career from an ambition pov but of course he was very successful in DTM.
Paffett did the first race of the 2003 F3000 season with newcomers Brand Motorsport. He finished 14th but then the team withdrew.

He was strongly linked to Sauber for 2005 until they signed Jacques Villeneuve.

He took a year out of the DTM in 2006 and there was a possibility he would get a run-out towards the end of the season with McLaren after Montoya left for NASCAR but the team decided to stick with De la Rosa.

Ahem! Back to Alesi!
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#12

Post by Picci »

Thanks everyone; this is very interesting! Can you offer any insight into the early years of Prost’s Ligier takeover? Any ideas why he didn’t like to test his own car when I’m sure he would have been very capable of doing so?
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#13

Post by Vassago »

Guy Ligier sold the team to Flavio Briatore after government money run out once Francois Mitterand's presidential term ended (word is Ligier was friends with Mitterand). Prost wanted to start his own team before 1997 but had to wait for Peugeot's exclusive deal with Jordan to finish and he was totally at odds with Renault at this stage.

As for testing, well, Prost still tested McLaren in 1994, 1995 and 1996 as the team was browsing options to put a veteran driver in the car beside Hakkinen once the Mansell comeback fiasco became untenable. Eventually they signed Coulthard as we know :tongue:
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