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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 10:31 GMT
Prost moves to improve team
Alain Prost
Prost hopes his head-scratching days are over
Alain Prost has taken the first major steps in his attempt to revive the fortunes of his struggling Formula One team.

The four-times world champion has plundered the resources of McLaren-Mercedes to find a new man to lead the design on the team's new car.

Henri Durand, formerly head of aerodynamics at McLaren, has joined Prost as technical director.

The team hopes the Frenchman will be able to bring some of the aerodynamic expertise of McLaren, which has had the best car in F1 for the last three years, to Prost in the future. The French team finished last in the world championship this season.

McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15
Prost hopes McLaren's expertise will transfer

Durand has worked since mid-1997 under McLaren's technical director, Adrian Newey, regarded as the best designer in F1.

Newey, who has been given most of the credit for McLaren's resurgence since his arrival, has been keen to give Durand a lot of the credit for the design of the McLarens since 1998.

However, McLaren's critics point out that Durand was in charge of aerodynamics through McLaren's lean period of 1994-97, when the car clearly lacked in that area.

Prost has also employed Spaniard Joan Villadelprat, formerly of Benetton, as his managing director.

Both men will have to try to solve the problems that have dragged Prost to the worst season in its history in 2000.

Henri Durand is undoubtedly one of the most talented top engineers in F1. His expertise has won him key roles at Ferrari and, most recently, McLaren
  Prost statement

The team has been afflicted by poor reliability and in-fighting, including an incident when the long-standing French contingent forced Prost to part company with his English technical director Alan Jenkins - 10 employees threatened to resign at the end of May unless Jenkins left.

A Prost statement said: "Durand, 40, is undoubtedly one of the most talented top engineers in F1. His talent and expertise have won him key roles at Ferrari and, most recently, McLaren."

Prost already has Jean Alesi under contract for 2001. He has yet to firm up his second driver, but it is almost certainly going to be Brazilian Pedro Diniz.

He would bring much needed finance to Prost, which has lost its title sponsor, the French cigarette brand Gauloises.

Rich associations

In addition, Diniz's father, Abilio, who owns the second largest supermarket chain in Brazil, Grupo Pao de Acucar, is considered likely to buy into the team.

Prost has already secured a deal to use Ferrari customer engines in 2001. The team will use the same specification of engines that Ferrari used in its successful world championship-winning season this year, while Ferrari will have a new design.

Although this is not a factory deal, Prost hopes these will be an improvement on the Peugeot V10s he has used for the last three years.

The relationship between Prost and Peugeot ended acrimoniously this year, with each blaming the other for their collective failure.

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See also:

25 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Sauber to take risk on Finn
06 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Prost happy with team's future
22 Sep 00 |  Motorsport
Prost secures Ferrari engines
20 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Diniz closing on Prost deal
23 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
McLaren paid price of failure
22 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
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