Alain Prost is apparently still in the picture as a prospective team principal at Renault for 2010 and beyond. While there has been no official statement by Renault, their current management team, Bob Bell and Jean-François Caubet, are currently serving on an interim basis, to the end of 2009. Bell and Caubet were appointed hastily in the wake of this year’s Crashgate scandal, and the subsequent resignations of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. Briatore has been banned from Formula 1 for life, and Symonds has been expelled for five years.
Bell and Caubet are a safe bet for Renault for the short term. Bell’s previous position was technical director for Renault. He has been bumped up to acting team principal. Caubet was formerly director of marketing and communications, and he has been given a field promotion to managing director.
It’s unlikely that this pair will generate any fresh scandals, as they’re both low profile team players, who will seem like wall-flowers compared to the flamboyant Briatore. This is just what Renault needs at a time when they’ll be anxious to attract new sponsors for 2010. They lost two major sponsors, including Dutch financial giant ING, as a direct result of the bad press resulting from Crashgate.
Looking to the long term, however, Renault might prefer to turn to someone with different skill sets to helm the team. Alain Prost, a four time world champ, and a former Renault driver, might fit the bill exactly. When queried recectly on a possible interest in rejoining Renault in a managerial capacity, Prost told the Belgian newspaper Vers l’Avenir, “It is complicated. I am not looking for work, but it is something that could interest me. Everything depends on what Renault really wants to do.” So, while Renault might not have put an offer on the table yet, Prost has indicated publicly that he would entertain an offer if one were made.
Prost ran his own Formula 1 team for five seasons, having purchased the French-owned team Ligier. The team showed promise in its debut season (1997) scoring 21 points, but the early promise faded, and the four years that followed were fairly dismal. The low point was in 2000, when the team failed to score a single point. Retaining sponsorship became a challenge, and eventually the team folded under a mounting pile of debts, at the end of 2001.
Said Prost of the experience, “Some day I will write a book that says everything about it. There are very few people who know what really happened, and a piece of the puzzle only very recently fell off its pedestal.” Could this be a reference to Flavio Briatore? Whatever the true story is, it’s bound to be enthralling. Briatore can barely scratch his nose without causing controversy. It would be an ironic closure if Prost were hired to replace the man who had somehow had a hand in the demise of Prost Grand Prix.
Image by Mark McArdle, licensed through Creative Commons.