Alain Prost has always been able to see the bigger picture and as the second part of an interview, which was shared with Motorlat.com shows, Prost has a clear insight into the direction he sees Formula 1 heading and with 22 races announced for 2020 – big changes could be ahead.
The man known in the racing world as ‘Le Professeur’ was given this tagline due to the methodical way he approached his racing. Although Alain Marie Pascal Prost OBE may no longer be a racing driver, due to his role of non-executive Director with Renault Sport, he still has a big part to play in the world of Formula One. Prost was previously involved in Formula E with his son Nicolas Prost racing for his team but now, with Nissan having taken on the team, this role no longer takes up his time and as such he can focus fully on Formula One.
“I am not involved anymore because Nissan has bought the team. We are involved in a way as Renault but I am not involved myself.”
The second half of the F1 season has seen a lot more involvement of the black and white flag so what are the thoughts of the 4-time F1 champion on this issue?
“What you see sometimes on TV is very different to what is inside. I am already very much in favour of not giving penalties all the time for any kind of reasons because for the image of our sport it is not very good. On the other side, you have to be careful about this ‘yellow card’ because you have a rule or you have no rule. Sometimes it’s good to leave things because the spectators want to see something a little bit different. I am a little cautious and want to see what is going on with this yellow card. What I wouldn’t like to see is that any driver can say ‘I can do one thing stupid then I will get a yellow card’. I feel it is more with the drivers to fix but leaving the drivers fighting a little bit more is good.”
The 2020 Formula 1 Calendar will see 22 Grand Prix race meetings and Prost is well aware “Formula 1 is still a very good investment.” However, he is pragmatic about his approach to the changes.
“We must keep maximum of races in Europe and outside Europe. Countries like where they have a history of racing and Formula One. Like Japan, like South America and even America. People are criticizing America but they have a history. When they are fans they are fans forever but times have changed.”
These changing times are worrying for the professor and he can only see the number of races increasing over the coming years.
“I started Formula One with 11 races and maximum for me was 16 races. Now, we are facing huge problems like less sponsors. You need to get more money for the teams and the package and the only way you get more money is more races. You cannot get 6 or 7 more races in Europe as the economy is not there. You have to be honest. At the end it is a product for the country but also for the TV – it’s a compromise.”
“I am not a big fan of a lot of races myself anyway but if it is the way to go for the economy then why not. It is very dangerous.”
So, are 22 races next year too many for the 2020 Formula One Calendar?
“You are going to face one problem. Now, we are really on the limit…if you have maybe one more or two more you know, you are going to face, I am sure, some people that they get a bit older or even some young people when they have family it starts to be too much for them. In this case, they are not going to say I do only 15 races, they will say I prefer not to travel anymore.”
“If it goes to 25 or 26 races you will need another organization and the team will split in two. So that is what we will be facing in my opinion. Myself, I would not travel to 25 races – I have travelled for 45 years.”
Formula One has brought in lots of changes in the hope of saving money and has a planned budget cap ahead but ‘Le Professeur’ warns that this may cost a lot more money in the long term and then the sport will have an even bigger problem on its hands.