RENAULT SPORT, 19.06.2010

An "emotional moment" for Alain Prost

Four-times F1 World Champion, and having tasted victory at Magny-Cours himself in the 1993 French Grand Prix, Alain Prost returned to the French circuit this weekend. The former Williams-Renault driver came to see his son Nicolas take part in the Renault F1 Team exhibition at the wheel of an R29. As part of the French round of the World Series by Renault, it was his son's first time in the driving seat of motorsport's top formula.

You won here in 1993 driving a Williams with a Renault engine. How did it feel to see your son climbing into the Renault F1 R29?
Itís 17 years since my last F1 race, and 30 years since my first. With everything thatís happened between times, I didn't think that coming here would bring back so many emotions. Itís been great, especially for him to drive an F1, even more so because the conditions were perfect. He didnít drive that many laps, and although it was only an exhibition, the setting was perfect and the car he was driving is terrific. So whatever happens, itís been a great opportunity. It has allowed him to gain some experience in an F1 and to drive his first few laps without any pressure. There was a point where we had nearly reached an agreement with an F1, but that didn't happen due to a change in the rules. Iím hoping that now, in particular thanks to this weekend, he will have the opportunity to go further, and to show his potential in competition. But first he needs to enjoy this moment, the tremendous opportunity with which he was presented this weekend. On a personal level, as a father, itís a magic moment. He was really disappointed 17 years ago when I retired. He wasnít pleased at all! But after Ayrton Senna's crash, he started to understand more. He was only a kid, he wasn't even 12 at the time. Today heís on the other side of the barrier, itís a very emotional moment.

Nicolas is currently in endurance racing, in which he surprised more than one person with his speed. Was it a surprise for you?
Nicolas has been underestimated. He didnít start in motorsport very young, and he followed a different career path to that of a racing driver, because he started with his studies. After that, I donít think the fact that he came along at the same time as Bruno Senna or Nico Rosberg really helped. To start with, people never really gave him credit. He wasnít at the level he is now; he lacked a lot of experience. Since then he has made so much progress and the level which he is now at is extremely promising. He works hard, thinks a lot, analyzes the situation, and he has made great leaps in terms of driving. As much as I wouldnít have said this a few years ago, today I would like to see him in an F1 team, especially with what F1 demands these days, I think it should suit him much better now than it would have a few years ago. Itíd be a shame if he was overlooked, in any event he is doing everything he needs to do to make it work, and itís true that today I think heís at a really high level.

Did you have any advice for him before he took to the track in the Renault F1 R29?
Personally I didnít tell him anything. I donít tell him how to drive, heís a big boy and he knows what heís doing. I mainly talk to him about whatís goes on outside the car and to watch out for certain things. I donít tell him "do this, do that, look out for this, watch out for that". Once heís there he can make his own way. He knows his stuff, and heís quite independent. Iím here because it gives me great pleasure to see him drive. Iím happy watching him drive, but I prefer to see him sort things out on his own, heís the one out there.

Have you been to a World Series by Renault meeting before?
No, Iíve never been to one before, this is my first time! Thereís a real sense of contact between the competition and the public, a real closeness. Itís what F1 is really crying out for at the moment. Itís true that itís not always easy to manage, but itís brilliant to have so many people at one motorsport event and to see spectators moving freely around the paddock.

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Alain Prost-Infopage © by Oskar Schuler, Switzerland