Former world champion and team owner Alain Prost has been announced as joining the steward’s team for the 2010 season, starting this weekend in Bahrain at the season’s opening race. The FIA have been trying for the past couple of years to become more transparent and fair in their stewarding decisions, and after it became known that one of the stewards in 2008 had little-to-no motor sport experience, calls were made to improve this side of the sport.
Prost formerly drove for some of the sport’s greatest teams – Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams – and accrued four driver’s titles during his career. Known among his peers as Le Professionnel, Prost had a reputation as being an intelligent driver who carefully calculated decisions both on and off the track. After retiring in 1991 following an unsuccessful season with Ferrari, Prost returned in 1993 with Williams. It was to be the Frenchman’s swansong season, and Prost duly took the title, thrashing his nemesis, Ayrton Senna.
After retiring for the second time, Prost took timeout of motor sport before returning to run his own team. Having taken over the Ligier squad, Prost hoped to continue the team’s building success (Olivier Panis had won the team’s first race in the year prior to the takeover). Alas, it wasn’t the greatest moment in Prost’s career and four years later the team folded due to lack of sponsorship.
Despite having successes and failures in Formula One, Prost is still a highly regarded member of the motor sport fraternity. His contribution to the steward’s team will surely be valuable and shows the FIA are working towards improving the management of the sport, especially when it comes to decisions made at the grands prix.
Judging by the comments in my 2008 post Are The Stewards Ruining Formula One?, it would seem that a lot as to be done to improve this area of the sport. Hopefully this move by the FIA will be seen as a welcome step in the right direction.