Transcript of the Yahoo! chat of 2nd June 2000
Chat Copyright © Yahoo! Inc.
Transcript revised/corrected by Oskar Schuler, AP-H3
This transcript will be available in German soon!
Alain Prost: Hello, I'm Alain Prost. I'm happy to be with you tonight. It's a good opportunity here in Monaco to answer questions from the fans. It's the first time I'm on the Yahoo! site. It's great to have a partner like Yahoo! to do these kinds of things.
Question: Who is the best driver now?
Alain Prost: It's always a very difficult question because it is always relative to the performance of the car. Obviously you would say Schumacher and Häkkinen at the moment because they are fighting for the first position. I think Schumacher is a little bit ahead of Häkkinen but not far ahead. Häkkinen is also very, very fast. Because they are fighting at the top level now they are also improving each other. Behind them there is a little bit of a gap.
Question: How do you feel with Michael Schumacher closing in on your all time wins record and what is your opinion of him as a driver compared to other all time greats?
Alain Prost: Again it's difficult to compare the drivers. With different generations. Even if I raced against Michael before I retired, he is not in the same generation. I think the competition today with the top drivers is a little bit less than 10 years ago, for example. But nevertheless Michael is the best today. He was already becoming the best when I retired and when Ayrton was still there, so honestly it is inevitable that he would be this successful. He has also created an environment at Ferrari which works very well for him. That was a big challenge for him and he has been successful. He deserves all the success I have no problem to be beaten by one of the top guys.
Question: Alain...Did you enjoy racing for Ferrari?
Alain Prost: I enjoyed the first year in 1990. It was my best year. When you're successful at Ferrari it's really something special. But in 1991 when I was not successful it was the exact opposite. It was a nightmare. So I only had 50 percent of the fun.
Question: What is the fastest speed you have ever driven at in a car?
Alain Prost: I think it was with a turbo car I don't remember if it was in Austria, Hockenheim or Monza but it was more than 350 km/h.
Question: Do you prefer French or Australian wine?
Alain Prost: I prefer French. I like Bordeaux. It is my favourite. But I must say Australian wines are better and better.
Question: Do you use Yahoo! more, now that they are your sponsors?
Alain Prost: Yes, maybe. Not because it's a sponsor but because we're doing much more things with them like Auctions and Chat and very soon some e-commerce merchandising on the site. Everyone around me and the team is using Yahoo! more and more.
Question: Who do you think was better, you or Ayrton Senna?
Alain Prost: We don't have enough time to try to compare the two. I think we were very different in terms of personality, approaches to racing and skill behind the wheel. But I must say he was the toughest competitor I've had on the track.
Question: Hi Alain! What is the important factor, the Car or the Driver?
Alain Prost: At the moment, in Formula 1 the competition is so high that the parameters, you really need to have all: Chassis, aerodynamics, engine, tires, organisation. The driver is part of it. The car is always a little bit more important than the driver. But the top drivers always combine with the best car. But a very good driver would never be competitive without the car.
Question: How do you plan to improve your teams performance in future races?
Alain Prost: We were very late on the winter programme. We had a lot of reliability problems at the beginning of the year. We have started our development programme only in the last month. In Germany Nick Heidfeld was 12th on the grid. Yesterday Jean Alesi was 7th in the first practise. We are not going to stop our development in the summer. It is very difficult to catch up what you have lost. But we are looking much better.
Question: Alain, how is it to work with Alesi ?
Alain Prost: Jean has a reputation of being difficult to work with. But with me and with the team it's not true. You need to know him. His character is very different. But he has a lot of passion and because of the passion and because of his Sicilian character sometimes he's coming up! But he's not difficult when you know him well. Since the beginning of the year he's been helping the team a lot. At Monaco, this weekend, he's going to show his ability to perform with a better car.
Question: Did you drive the AP03?
Alain Prost: I never drove one of my cars in the last 3 years, I never wanted to. I never felt the necessity to do it. When you have stopped, and in my job as the team owner, it's difficult to keep the credibility. If you do it professionally you need to do it often and train for it. If it's only for fun it's not serious.
Question: Are you into any other Racing sports, like Rally or NASCAR?
Alain Prost: No, no. The job of Prost Grand Prix is to build Formula 1 cars for the team. You never know what can happen in the future. But we couldn't build something else. But we have a Formula 3000 team owned by Prost grand prix. Personally, I watch sometimes. I watch all kinds of sport. I'm interested in all kinds of motor racing. But it's a long way from Formula 1.
Question: What was the highlight of your career?
Alain Prost: Obviously the 4 titles. But for me the best of my career is that I was competitive for 13 years. I was in a position to win a championship in 9 or 10 years. That was very important for me.
Question: Which car do you drive privately?
I have a Peugeot 605 with my chauffeur in Paris. And I have a Mercedes at home in Switzerland.
Question: What is your favourite band?
Alain Prost: I really don't have any. I'm not a big fan of music. I like to listen to the music without knowing any groups. I like the Sixties, French or English music, more than today. I also listen to classical music, opera, Placido Domingo etc. But I can't listen for long I can't take 2 hours to listen to music.
Question: Alain... what's your favourite track to race on and why???
Alain Prost: I like normally the "not natural" tracks. I like the old tracks like Brazil, the old Nürburbring, I like today the Spa and I like obviously Monaco driving Formula 1 in Monaco is really special. It's difficult to explain but it's so different.
Question: What are your chances at Monaco?
Alain Prost: As I said we have improved the car, we're looking much better. The target is to qualify in the first 10. It's very difficult to overtake here. Then the target is to finish in the points. But we're expecting a good result in Monaco.
Question: In your opinion, a complete French team is possible or not?
Alain Prost: It doesn't look to be possible anymore. Because the French constructors are not interested by French teams. In any case, the motivation to have a French team and only French does not interest us anymore. We want to be international. We are more a European team with international motivation. All our sponsors are international. So we're not talking anymore about typical French.
Question: Who will win Euro 2000?
I think the French team is not the greatest but it's the best at the moment. I would put them favourites. I don't know who else could be better.
Question: Is it possible to build a car that will run on sunlight
Alain Prost: No, they could not generate enough power. Yeah, you could run it. But it would be very slow!
Question: Which city offers the best night life during the season?
Alain Prost: I think the most entertainment is always in Australia and Monaco and Canada, Montreal.
Question: Which driver did you most enjoy driving against?
I could say Ayrton but it's difficult to say "enjoy". It was challenging but "enjoy" is not right. It's enjoyable when you beat them and I wasn't able to beat him all the time. I enjoyed having team-mates like Niki Lauda. But you want to challenge everybody.
Question: Is it possible to work on the AP04 without being certain of the engine ?
Alain Prost: Yes, that's a good question. But we have started to work on a new car without knowing the engine. But we are prepared for that. If we know the engine by the end of June, beginning of July it's still OK. But it's obviously not the best way to do things.
Question: Alain, what is your opinion of Jenson Button?
Alain Prost: I can only be positive because I gave him the opportunity to be in Formula 1. I let him drive my car in December. He had a contract ready to be a Formula 3000 driver plus a test driver in my team. His test was very impressive and Frank gave him the opportunity to be an official driver. He's very very talented, no question about that.
Question: How do you relax in your spare time?
Alain Prost: At the moment, very difficult to relax the only activity that relaxes me is sport especially bicycle. Children are also a good way to relax.
Question: Who are you thinking about signing for next year?
Alain Prost: We have a contract with Jean for next year and we have an option on Nick. Our priority at the moment is the engine. As soon as we know about the engine and sponsors we'll make a decision about the drivers. At the moment there's no reason to change.
Question: Which is now the most dangerous track in Europe?
Alain Prost: Difficult for me to answer. I haven't driven since 1993 and the tracks have been getting better and better in terms of safety. Also, safe tracks are often boring. Tracks which drivers like the most are often fast and dangerous. I can't really tell.
Question: Why do you think the Americans do not rate F1?
Alain Prost: I don't know if they do not rate it. First of all they don't know exactly what is F1. Also since Mario Andretti we never had a very, very competitive American driver. And obviously never an American team. So Americans may find it difficult to be interested in something not involving American people. Also the culture of America is more about the show than the technology of sport. Every time we have a GP in the states we always had a lot of people. But you can't expect to have only one race a year, and have people interested like in NASCAR.
Question: How long before Prost can challenge for the Constructors title?
Alain Prost: It depends when we are going to have a long term visibility, a long-term commitment with an engine company or with sponsors. We need to get 3rd, 4th, 5th position and then think about how to get further in the future. It's becoming more and more competitive but the motivation is there.
Question: Are drivers of different nationalities different?
Alain Prost: Yes. I think obviously you have German drivers or English drivers are very often more disciplined and more professional than Latin drivers. You cannot say they are all the same. But that is very often the case. At the end of the day it depends on which team. Sometimes a different mentality needs a team where the ambience is suitable. Some people can't be competitive in too disciplined an ambience. But drivers do act differently, and sometimes when they change teams it's better.
Question: Why was the car underweight at the European Grand Prix?
Alain Prost: It was obviously a mistake from our side. Normally for qualifying we take a margin of 2 kilos to be sure. On Saturday we put some new parts on the car which were lighter. We did not take enough care. Also we put a little bit less oil on the engine. Also the tires had a slightly different weight. And in fact the margin was not big enough. And we were 1.5 kilos underweight, which is not acceptable.
Question: Who was your boyhood hero?
Alain Prost: In sport, because I was interested very young in Formula 1 it was Jackie Stewart and a little bit later Niki Lauda. Even younger I was fascinated by De Gaulle!
Question: What do you see in the Future of F1 racing
Alain Prost: I'm always very positive about the future of Formula 1. The sport is becoming more and more global, which is very important. The fact that we are everywhere in the world and especially in the States is great. The involvement of the big constructors and sponsors is very important. So I can see a very positive effect on the future.
Question: Do you have any job vacancies?
Alain Prost: At the moment, no! Because we want to stabilise the team. But in the near future if we have long-term visibility very soon we are going to start to employ again.
Question: What championship winning season do you consider to be your best?
Alain Prost: 86. Because my car was not the best. When you win the championship with an inferior car you are always happier.
Question: If Senna was still here and at the top, would you hire him
Alain Prost: Yes. Obviously that would have been an unbelievable story. I don't know if we could have been competitive enough and rich enough to hire him but that would be a fantastic thing to do it. I hope there were many users here tonight. I hope they're interested in Prost and in Formula 1. I hope to be here several times in the year. I enjoyed answering your questions. Goodbye.
Chat Copyright © Yahoo! Inc.
Transcript revised/corrected by Oskar Schuler, AP-H3
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