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In the wake of recent team failures...


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#1 pitflaps

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 14:43

I've never had this adequately explained, except for the odd poisonous aside from Peter Windsor in F1 Racing which was never backed up with anything concrete: almost like he had an axe to grind, I still don't understand why Prost (the team) failed so spectacularly.

Does anybody know? Was it an ego thing? Bad timing? Peugeot? The French government?

Or is it like football management: the better you are at the sport you do, the worse you will seem to be in a management capacity.

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#2 engel

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 14:49

Ultimately Prost was a simple case where expenditure > income ... ie they amassed debt they couldn't service so they went bankrupt.

Why is probably opinion, some say the french government had promised Prost more than it actually delivered, others say Prost spent a lot of money gambling on getting results which never materialized and neither did the sponsorship.

#3 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:01

I don't think Prost were really that different from any other team that went under. Had a bump or a hiccup, got a little behind, and at that point it's all but certain that you'll go under.

#4 Viktor

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:09

I don't think Prost were really that different from any other team that went under. Had a bump or a hiccup, got a little behind, and at that point it's all but certain that you'll go under.

I have always wondered if Prost "bump" (the start of the fall) was Panis crash in Canada 1997. With him out of the car they had to rely on Nakano and Trulli, two rookie F1 driver and one of them that Prost publicly did not want to have in the car, to develop the car and work towards next year (first full Prost car).

/Viktor

Edited by Viktor, 09 August 2009 - 15:10.


#5 primer

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:18

Mr. Prost didn't have the required funding, that's why his team failed in F1.

#6 potmotr

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:19

Prost GP is an interesting one.

I've got a funny feeling the team's financial demise had something to do with a shifting of sands in French politics more than the team's performance.

In 2000 the team had a seriously awesome array of (mostly French) sponsors.

Gauloises, the state-owned cigarette brand (which took over from Gitanes in 1996), Agfa, Canal+ (the French TV station), Alcatel (the French telecommunications giant), Société Bic (the French giant which makes pens, cigarette lighters etc), Playstation, Total (French oil giant), Sodexo (the French food services giant) and of course those crappy Peugeot engines were free weren't they?

Prost's year in 2000 was pretty awful, but the team had been through some pretty depressing lulls in the past without losing all that French support.

By the time the Australian GP rolled around in 2001 all those sponsors were gone. The only stickers on the car were for pay driver Gaston Mazzacane's backer PSN.

I remember reading somewhere that some politician in France was a huge backer of motorsport, but may have been rolled? Perhaps someone out there has more information.

I know Guy Ligier had very close ties to Francois Mitterand, hence sponsorship from French national fags, French national lottery, French national oil company (Elf) for many years...

Edited by potmotr, 09 August 2009 - 15:21.


#7 pitflaps

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:46

See, the thing is this is what I thought, but whenever Windsor refers to Prost it's with either withering sarcasm or something almost venomous: that basically it failed because he was incompetent. Admittedly, with Prost having given up a few years back it's probably why I've not seen anything recently from Mr USGP bad mouthing him but it's bugged me and the spectre of Windsor now running an F1 team himself made me wonder if Prost - who must have been all too aware of Windsor's opinion - must be wondering how he'll do.

Obviously this is relying rather a lot on people here having read the same stuff I have but I thought it was worth a try :confused:

#8 potmotr

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:48

It was very sad that such a great champion as Alain Prost ended up having his business go bankrupt and fell out with his old mate Jean Alesi over cash.

There were some decent highs in the Prost GP times, the Monaco win in 1996 for example. Panis also looked awesome in the first few races of 1997 before breaking his leg.

#9 engel

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:49

It was very sad that such a great champion as Alain Prost ended up having his business go bankrupt and fell out with his old mate Jean Alesi over cash.

There were some decent highs in the Prost GP times, the Monaco win in 1996 for example. Panis also looked awesome in the first few races of 1997 before breaking his leg.



Monaco 96 was ligier not Prost

#10 potmotr

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:51

Monaco 96 was ligier not Prost


Jeez, you're right!

Apologies! :|

#11 Dolph

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 15:58

There were some decent highs in the Prost GP times, the Monaco win in 1996 for example.


Wasn't it called Ligier then?

#12 Rob

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:11

Prost was spending umpteen million francs a year on Ferrari engines. if he'd gone for Cosworth or Hart engines, he could have saved a lot of money. I think Prost thought that if he spent more, he would get better results and new sponsors.

#13 D.M.N.

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:19

Same goes for Arrows - what really contributed to their downfall? Money?

#14 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:23

Arrows took the approach/gamble to really go for it and improve the team and hope the results + new sponsorship would cover the costs. When Stoddart went in to buy their old stuff he said they had everything you could possibly want.

#15 engel

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:27

Prost was spending umpteen million francs a year on Ferrari engines. if he'd gone for Cosworth or Hart engines, he could have saved a lot of money. I think Prost thought that if he spent more, he would get better results and new sponsors.



I think the Ferrari engines were pretty cheap for them, considering they had a rebadge deal with Acer

#16 JPW

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:37

Prost was spending umpteen million francs a year on Ferrari engines. if he'd gone for Cosworth or Hart engines, he could have saved a lot of money. I think Prost thought that if he spent more, he would get better results and new sponsors.

Funnily people never seem to learn from the passed because Spyker did exactly the same.

Anyway re Prost here's a link to the Press Conference they did after they went bankrupt.

I think it was a bit of everything that lead to the Prost GP dimise. It was a megalomaniac French national project, the economy (internet bubble) went down, Prost obviously wasn't F1 management material, it was the time of the explosion of costs in F1 with manufacturers putting in obscene amounts of money a.s.o.

Btw didn't Arrows go into liquidation also in 2002?



#17 engel

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:44

Btw didn't Arrows go into liquidation also in 2002?



Yeah, Prost went into liquidation at the start of 2002 Arrows stopped competing after the German GP in 2002 and went into liquidation at the end of the year

#18 Rob

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 16:58

Arrows took the approach/gamble to really go for it and improve the team and hope the results + new sponsorship would cover the costs. When Stoddart went in to buy their old stuff he said they had everything you could possibly want.


The irony is that Jackie Oliver had kept the team going for years on a tiny budget.

#19 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 18:18

The irony is that Jackie Oliver had kept the team going for years on a tiny budget.


And Ligier had Ligier running for close to 20 years. I know that a large part of those 20 years he had government backing, but Prost went about conducting the business of being in business in F1 as if they were a front running team, which they were not and had last been in the early 80ies.

I have read the transscript of the link posted, and with FF 200 million in debth, then you are not a sound ongoing concern, when the expected revenue is less that 30% of that. And according to Prost the FF 200 were basically accumulated in 2001.

It was a poorly run endeavour in the sense that the intent was above it's means, and rather than re-evaluate it's intent, the means was exhausted to the point of complete failure.

:cool:

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#20 Burai

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:52

Alain was a victim of the French government being happy to run a team at 1996 budget levels but not so much 1999 budget levels.

To be fair, nobody could have predicted just how fast costs were going to rise and how attractive F1 would become to the manufacturers. Pretty much all of the independents without a manufacturer deal between 1998 and 2001 either sold up or went bust.

Benetton - sold to Renault
Tyrrell - sold to BAT
Stewart - sold to Ford
Minardi - sold to Paul Stoddart
Arrows - went bust
Prost - went bust

Only Jordan, Sauber and the reborn Minardi would survive, but they weren't much longer for the world either.

It's very easy to point to Jackie Oliver and Guy Ligier and say that they ran their teams far better than Walkinshaw and Prost did due to the longevity of their teams, but lets not forget that toward the end of their respective runs they'd sold massive portions of their teams to Footwork and Flavio Briatore just to keep existing before they eventually decided enough was enough and properly sold up.

It was far easier to run for 20 years in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. Not so much in the late 90's and 2000's

#21 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:06

Alain was a victim of the French government being happy to run a team at 1996 budget levels but not so much 1999 budget levels.

To be fair, nobody could have predicted just how fast costs were going to rise and how attractive F1 would become to the manufacturers. Pretty much all of the independents without a manufacturer deal between 1998 and 2001 either sold up or went bust.

Benetton - sold to Renault
Tyrrell - sold to BAT
Stewart - sold to Ford
Minardi - sold to Paul Stoddart
Arrows - went bust
Prost - went bust

Only Jordan, Sauber and the reborn Minardi would survive, but they weren't much longer for the world either.

It's very easy to point to Jackie Oliver and Guy Ligier and say that they ran their teams far better than Walkinshaw and Prost did due to the longevity of their teams, but lets not forget that toward the end of their respective runs they'd sold massive portions of their teams to Footwork and Flavio Briatore just to keep existing before they eventually decided enough was enough and properly sold up.

It was far easier to run for 20 years in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. Not so much in the late 90's and 2000's



As you point out, there were other small teams which survived, not all the teams changed hands for the same reasons (not due to being about to fold). But Jordan is still around despite being mismanged repeatedly since Jordan sold out, Sauber is only now disappearing and it took a manufacturer to acheive that, and Minardi is Toro Rosso, a team which have tasted the sweetness of victory.

I agree there were different economical settings for Prost than for Ligier (and Arrows), but you could go about doing your business in a different way that what Prost did, and thinking as a team that you have a 'right' to Government support is a bad business model to pursue.

I would have to read up on it again, but I have something about moving from a functioning F1 base to a new one custom build (in Paris?), and that surely can not have helped.

I am on record over the debacle of the first failure of Prodrive to show for the slot they got, stating that a F1 team could be run for substancially less than what was being bandied about at the time (I was using Usd 50 million as my number). This would not give you a race winning car, it would give you a presence, and the ability to improve. I was roundly redicluled for this, which have not changed my opinion that it was possible then, and the simple fact is that Arrows and Prost failed through poor / bad management.

:cool:

#22 potmotr

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:32

The irony is that Jackie Oliver had kept the team going for years on a tiny budget.


..and Tom Walkinshaw went to Australia to scam Mark Skaife out of Holden Racing Team.

#23 pitflaps

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:33

On a related note this just reminded me of how many teams have disappeared: I usually remember the obvious ones like Lotus or Brabham but then I completely forgot Ligier. Then you have Arrows, Tyrrell never mind Minardi and Osella. When people moan about Honda disappearing and BMW I think about all the other dead teams and really wonder whether I'm all that bothered; they don't have history but they do (or did) have seemingly bottomless pockets.

For those who looked at the "possible" team sheets when the first tender went out for new teams and moaned and belittled e.g. Campos, etc. forget there's not a lot of difference between them and the ones above, in that they're privateer teams who only gain a veneer of meaningful kudos when they have competed for a sufficient amount of time. If USGP were still knocking around in 10 years time who's to say they wouldn't have the same sort of affection as Arrows or Jordan?

#24 Burai

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:46

But the teams that survived really did struggle though the early part of this decade.

Eddie Jordan tried every trick in the book to keep going. Sacking Frentzen to take on Sato to try to get the valuable Honda factory support, taking on Timo Glock to bring back DHL, even though they were pissed off about Frentzen, taking on a driver as awful as Ralph Firman just to keep Gallahers on-board, the "factory" Ford deal, the court case with Vodafone.

Sauber were sunk in 2005 when Red Bull left. If BMW hadn't bought them, they'd have likely gone kaput.

And Toro Rosso is very, very far from being Minardi. If Minardi had Adrian Newey and Geoff Willis designing it's cars under Paul Stoddart whilst getting free money from another front-running team, I don't doubt they might have won a race too.

It's very easy saying that Prost shouldn't have counted on government support, but without it, he could have never bought the team in the first place and Ligier would have likely gone under at the end of 1996 when Tom Walkinshaw took Pedro Diniz to Arrows to pay Damon Hill's wages.

Were these teams badly run? I wouldn't say badly. Just desperately.

As for Prodrive, their entire plan revolved around customer McLaren's. I don't doubt for one second that they could have run their own car for $50m a season. But to set up the facilities and design and build the car and run the season for $50m? In the timeframe they had? Not a chance.

#25 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 05:35

But the teams that survived really did struggle though the early part of this decade.

Eddie Jordan tried every trick in the book to keep going. Sacking Frentzen to take on Sato to try to get the valuable Honda factory support, taking on Timo Glock to bring back DHL, even though they were pissed off about Frentzen, taking on a driver as awful as Ralph Firman just to keep Gallahers on-board, the "factory" Ford deal, the court case with Vodafone.

Sauber were sunk in 2005 when Red Bull left. If BMW hadn't bought them, they'd have likely gone kaput.

And Toro Rosso is very, very far from being Minardi. If Minardi had Adrian Newey and Geoff Willis designing it's cars under Paul Stoddart whilst getting free money from another front-running team, I don't doubt they might have won a race too.

It's very easy saying that Prost shouldn't have counted on government support, but without it, he could have never bought the team in the first place and Ligier would have likely gone under at the end of 1996 when Tom Walkinshaw took Pedro Diniz to Arrows to pay Damon Hill's wages.

Were these teams badly run? I wouldn't say badly. Just desperately.

As for Prodrive, their entire plan revolved around customer McLaren's. I don't doubt for one second that they could have run their own car for $50m a season. But to set up the facilities and design and build the car and run the season for $50m? In the timeframe they had? Not a chance.


We disagree.

:cool:

#26 Dmitriy_Guller

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 06:22

Arrows took the approach/gamble to really go for it and improve the team and hope the results + new sponsorship would cover the costs. When Stoddart went in to buy their old stuff he said they had everything you could possibly want.

Arrows really seemed like a shame in the year they were on the way out. It seemed like their car was really fast that year, and it took a lot of effort to qualify them outside 107% on purpose. It's a shame that the team was dead financially just as it looked resurgent on the track.

#27 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 06:30

Well even 2000 was impressive, with that Supertec engine and drivers 'only' the level of de la Rosa and Verstappen.



#28 ensign14

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 07:29

On a related note this just reminded me of how many teams have disappeared: I usually remember the obvious ones like Lotus or Brabham but then I completely forgot Ligier. Then you have Arrows, Tyrrell never mind Minardi and Osella.

And even then Brabham and Lotus were bought by people who failed to understand F1 and Tyrrell and Osella were pretty much bought out by vanity projects. The motor racing people somehow found a way to continue.

With Prost, I wonder about his politicking skills. He managed to antagonize Renault in 1983, got out-Sennaed at McLaren, went to a race-winning Ferrari and eased Mansell out to become number one in a team that suddenly could not buy a win, and had a championship year at Williams having got rid of Mansell again that turned out to be a dead-end as he was out-Sennaed again. He seems to have left a trail of disinterest. At Ligier where the politicking was against the likes of Briatore and Dennis he got totally driven under.

#29 pingu666

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:12

i remmber prost was pretty annoyed with peogot, didnt they have 20 engine failures in one year, excluding testing?

#30 Zippel

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:34

The Prost team failed for numerous reason, the main one being Prost himself. Prost for all his appeal as a racing driver took his driver mouth with him when he took over the Ligier team. There were many occasions where he would rubbish someone within his team to the media without thinking of the consequences. He publically declared the Mugen-Honda engine was rubbish mid 1997, despite the success he enjoyed with them up until that point. He complained of Trulli’s inability to set-up the car. Questioned Peugeot’s commitment to F1 in 1999 when his own team’s chassis was more rubbish than was the engine that drove it. Ultimately leading to the mechanics strike at the 2000 French GP. Rubbished Heidfeld mid 2000. Rubbished Alesi after his French 01 race, despite finding out his car’s floor was faulty, then when Alesi hit back in the media Prost took exception to it. In 1997, many sponsors wanted to stick their names on his car, by the end of 2000 barely anyone wanted anything to do with him. He could have saved the team by selling his share to the Dinz family but again his ego got the better of him, costing over 200 jobs and 30 years of history.

There are other secondary reasons of course. The Prost team’s inexperience at designing a clean sheet race car. When they had assumed the Prost name, the team had not built a car from scratch since 1993! (94, was a small development on the previous year while 95-97 was a redeveloped Benetton clone). As a result, the AP01 was a disaster, failing about 3 crash test before the season even began and only scoring a fortunate point at the incident ridden Belgium GP.

Despite having little sponsorship, Prost went into mass debt for 2001, hoping some sponsors would jump on board, showing off pseudo fast lap times pre-season. Around $50mil US in the end I think it was.


#31 ensign14

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 12:35

i remmber prost was pretty annoyed with peogot, didnt they have 20 engine failures in one year, excluding testing?

According to Peugeot, this was not an engine failure.

#32 potmotr

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 12:58

According to Peugeot, this was not an engine failure.


No no, it wasn't.

Silly old Martin Brundle held one rev range for too long, creating a unique situation where the engine harmonics allowed a heaps of oil to flood into the cylinders.

When he floored it.. ka boom!

Peugeot reckon they fired that engine up when it got back to the pits...

#33 metz

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:34

In a recent interview, Heidfeld talks about the financial disaster in 2000.
Both drivers would sit in the car on Fridays and wait for Peugeot to be paid before they could start the engines.
The cheque usualy did not bounce until Monday. :blush:

#34 Victor_RO

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 16:20

No no, it wasn't.

Silly old Martin Brundle held one rev range for too long, creating a unique situation where the engine harmonics allowed a heaps of oil to flood into the cylinders.

When he floored it.. ka boom!

Peugeot reckon they fired that engine up when it got back to the pits...


In his autobiography, Martin said that the engine did fire up when in the pits after that fireball, prompting Peugeot to slam him and say that he should have carried on. Conveniently forgetting to mention that the fire had melted the rear suspension, burned the rear wing, and the engine had used 8 out of its 14 liters of oil in the fire.