F1

Prost-Peugeot '98 launched

BARCELONA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Alain Prost declared his intention on Tuesday to break into Formula One's top four teams as soon as possible. He was speaking at the launch of his Peugeot-powered team's 1998 car at...

BARCELONA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Alain Prost declared his intention on Tuesday to break into Formula One's top four teams as soon as possible. He was speaking at the launch of his Peugeot-powered team's 1998 car at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. The 43-year-old Frenchman, who won the world drivers' cham- pionship four times before retiring in 1993, said he had com- pletely restructured the former Ligier team in the last 12 months and now had a clear vision for the future. Prost said: "Only four teams have shared the victories in Formula One in the last few years so for us the ambition is to be a top team and break in among them as soon as possible." Prost appeared on stage in a marquee in the car park at the circuit to talk against the background noise of Williams continu- ing their own testing programme in preparation for the new season which opens in Melbourne on March 8 for the Australian Grand Prix. Since he bought the former Ligier team and renamed it, Prost said he had increased the number of employees from 68 to 150 and planned further expansion and a move to a new factory and head- quarters near Versailles. The team was previously based at Magny Cours but intends to mark 1998 as the start of a new era. Both drivers, Frenchman Olivier Panis and Italian Jarno Trulli expressed optimism for the year ahead. Trulli said he had learned his reasonably fluent French by training and practically living with Panis during the last three months. Trulli had originally joined the team as a replacement for the Frenchman when he broke both of his legs at last year's Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal in June. Prost also welcomed fellow Frenchman Bernard Dudot in public as his team's technical director. Dudot has been recruited from Renault where he was the mastermind behind the engine manufacturers' succession of six constructors' championship victories.

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