GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #6 - Alain Prost

09-03-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
F1 News
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #6 - Alain Prost

Hello and welcome back to GPBlog.com’s countdown of our top 50 F1 drivers of all time. As you may have seen already today, it’s finally raceweek and there’s just six days to go until the Australian Grand Prix gets us underway for F1 in the decade of the 2020s. Yesterday in seventh was the great Niki Lauda and today we’ve got a former teammate and rival of his, Alain Prost.

Known as the professor for his meticulous and perfectionist approach, Prost isn’t seen as one of the most swashbuckling or flamboyant of drivers, rather as someone who knew exactly how to get the maximum result from the minimum risk.

He began his F1 career in 1980 with McLaren, scoring points on his debut in a relatively unsuccessful year for the team.

He moved to Renault and had more luck immediately, finishing on the podium in Argentina and then taking his first win in the sport on home turf at Dijon.

Two more wins followed but the Renault was prone to a DNF or nine and Prost was unable to get involved in the title fight, despite a late surge.

He started 1982 with two wins from two races, but would go winless for the rest of the season as he was unable to capitalise on other’s bad luck.

Prost led the title most of the way through 1983, winning four races along the way, but agonisingly missed out as a turbo problem in the final round saw Nelson Piquet snatch the crown.

The following year he got even closer. Having moved to McLaren in the off-season, he was partnered with Niki Lauda and missed out on the title by just half a point, the smallest title winning margin in history.

1985 was the Frenchman’s year however. He battled for the title lead with Michele Alboreto for the first half of the season with the pair locked on 50 points with six rounds to go.

Alboreto then went five races without scoring to end the season, leaving Prost to cruise to his first title. He went into the 1986 season looking to defend his crown, but had the tough task of coming up against Williams duo Piquet and Nigel Mansell.

Prost went into the final round in Adelaide as the outsider, but Mansell’s infamous tyre blowout opened the door and Prost took the victory and his second title.

1987 was frustrating as Williams dominated, but McLaren came back to form in 1988, with Prost and Ayrton Senna beginning their famous duel.

Prost and Senna won 15 of the 16 races during the season and Prost actually scored more points overall than the Brazilian, but only the best 11 finishes counted towards the title, allowing Senna to be crowned champion.

1989 saw the feud between the pair go up a notch. Senna started the season in better form, winning three of the first four, but Prost’s consistency had him leading heading into the final rounds.

At the penultimate race at Suzuka, Senna went for a move on Prost and the championship leader swerved into Senna, ending Prost’s race immediately. Senna got going again and won the race, but was disqualified for cutting the chicane, making Prost a three time champion.

Prost moved to Ferrari for 1990, but the pair still battled. It was Senna’s turn to take the title with a crash in Suzuka this time, taking Prost out at the first corner, ending both their races and the championship.

1991 was tough for Ferrari as both McLaren and Williams had faster cars and Prost struggled. He failed to win a race and was fired with one round to go after making comments about the team in the media.

He took a year out in 1992, returning with Williams for 1993. He won seven of the first ten races to take a dominant lead in the championship, winning it in Portugal with two rounds to spare.

Prost retired after 1993, and is one of a few men to have won four world titles. His record of 51 Grand Prix wins was the benchmark at the team, since being beaten by Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

Prost wasn’t the flashiest of drivers, nor was he the most breathtakingly fast, but his awareness in the cockpit gave him an advantage over his competitors. Prost is seen as one of F1’s greatest heroes and his competitiveness resembles everything F1 is all about.

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