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Prost regrets Renault’s departure as F1 team owner

Alain Prost has admitted further disappointment with France’s dwindling involvement in formula one.

Last month, the quadruple world champion said he was frustrated with the country’s reluctance to return to the grand prix calendar and the lack of French drivers on the grid.

Now, he said he “regrets” the carmaker Renault’s decision to sell its remaining shares in the Enstone based F1 team and be only an engine supplier in 2011.

“These are the facts.  We (France) have hit the bottom,” said Prost, whose own Guyencourt-based F1 team collapsed ten years ago.

“You can be optimistic and hope people realise this is not a good thing for a car country like France.  So perhaps there will be measures or strategies implemented to return things to normal, maybe even better than in the past,” he told Auto Hebdo at an event in Paris.

“But it’s extremely difficult right now because our country has become a little auto-phobic,” continued Prost.  “Companies and marques have no desire to invest in formula one.

“That there is no French grand prix is one thing, but that there are no French drivers racing is a big gap,” he said.  “That is what brings people’s interest to the sport.”

Prost admitted that his biggest regret is that the situation developed slowly and therefore surely without being unnoticed by authorities.

“For me it’s not a surprise and it wasn’t inevitable.”

His latest lament is that, in 2011, there will be no French-owned teams, following Renault’s sale of the remainder of its shares in the Enstone based team to make way for the Group Lotus buy-in.

“The Renault team was part of history and heritage so when you lose that it’s hard to get back,” said Prost.

“Being an engine supplier of course is very good, but I think it (Renault’s departure as a team owner) is a shame.  But then, I understand the need to make savings.

“But it’s going to be more even difficult for France and French drivers (now),” he rued.

 © RIF | GMM