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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Prost: Schumacher is better than me
Michael Schumacher
Schumacher was 'Ferrari's only route to success'
Alain Prost, the most successful Grand Prix driver of all time, has paid tribute to new world champion Michael Schumacher saying the German is a better driver than he was.

Prost, now a team owner, has won more Formula One races than anyone in history, but he believes Schumacher's talent surpasses his own in certain areas.

"I wasn't able to drive every car at top speed straight away. In that he is better than me," said Prost, referring to Schumacher's amazing ability to push it to the limit on his first flying lap out of the pits.

The Frenchman, now 45, drove for Ferrari in 1990-91. He came close to winning the championship in his first year, but lost out when he was barged out of the Japanese Grand Prix by arch-rival Ayrton Senna.

Big risk

Prost was eventually sacked by Ferrari for publicly criticising the car at the end of an uncompetitive 1991 season in which the team did not win a race.

He believes Ferrari took a big risk in concentrating its whole team on one driver in the way it has with Schumacher.

But he says it would not have ended its barren spell if it had not. Schumacher has this year become the first man to win the drivers' world title for Ferrari since Jody Scheckter in 1979.

"It was a risk for Ferrari to introduce the Schumacher system," said Prost. "Naturally you can criticise that everything was done to cater for just one man. But for Ferrari it was the only way. To succeed they needed the discipline.

Michael Schumacher (left) and Alain Prost
Schumacher (left) and Prost raced each other in the early 1990s

"Without a driver of his calibre, Ferrari would hardly have survived the last five seasons without a title. Without Michael, the team would have been politically destroyed."

Prost's mark of 51 Grand Prix victories is now well within the reach of Schumacher, who has won 43. The German has two years left on his Ferrari contract and has averaged over four wins a season since he joined the team in 1996.

Schumacher, who now has three world titles to his name, could also overtake Prost's mark of four championships. Only Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio won more - he took five between 1951 and 1957.

Schumacher's previous titles were in 1994 and 1995 with Benetton.

Prost's struggling F1 team will use Ferrari engines next season.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 |  Motorsport
Prost secures Ferrari engines
08 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
End of the longest wait
06 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Prost happy with team's future
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