PRESS CONFERENCE, 24.08.2000
Belgium Grand Prix 2000 - Thursday Press Conference
Alain, everyone here wants to know about the future of your team. In a press release that I have here it is stated that, contrary to reports, no engine contract has been signed for 2000. There is also the question of whether or not you are selling, and we hear speculation about your own future. Can you enlighten us?
Not really: that is why we issued the press release. We have nothing signed, nothing fixed, so there is nothing to announce this weekend. I hope [to have something to say] next week. I am very pleased to see all you out there, but there are three guys fighting for the world championship and there are far more interesting things to be told here about that. The only thing I would say is that I am quite optimistic. But I don't want to say more than that.
The season as a whole has not been good for you and there is no obvious quick cure. For next year, for example, can you envisage a quick cure?
You say it's 'not been good,' but in fact the season has been very bad. We started badly, with a huge delay, and we could not test. The car wasn't very good at the beginning and although we have improved the car, that is still not enough. The only thing I have to say is that these days it is very difficult to compete with the big teams backed by big car companies. When you are one second behind, or 1.5 seconds, it is very difficult to catch up. The last five tenths cost a lot of money. We know where we are. There have been people who wanted to think that a Prost with a Peugeot engine could beat McLaren and Ferrari. No way! It is absolutely not possible. If you start with a reasonable objective, then you don't have this type of problem. But obviously the car and engine haven't been good enough.
A former Prost driver, Olivier Panis, has spent this year as McLaren's test driver and will be going back to full time racing with BAR next year. Have you been surprised that he has been signed to race by another team?
No. Ask him what I said to him at about this stage of the season last year. I did not know he was going to be a test driver with McLaren but I thought that it was better, both for him and the team, to have a change of air. Becoming the test driver at McLaren gave him a good chance to find another team because people knew that with more experience he would be mature, which is true. Sometimes a one year rest from racing is not bad for a driver. I think he will come back even stronger than before.
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