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F1 Icons: Alain Prost

Alain Prost's four world championships made him the most successful Formula 1 driver since the 1950s and his tally of 51 Grand Prix victories stood until Michael Schumacher rewrote F1 history in the early 2000s.

Nicknamed "The Professor" for his intelligent approach to racing, Prost believed in looking after his car and driving no faster than was necessary to win. He was also particularly adept at playing politics to turn things in his favour. 

Prost was known for his rivalries with his 1980s contemporaries Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and, most notably, Ayrton Senna.

Formula 1
Born24th February 1955
BirthplaceLorette, Loire, France
F1 debut1980 Argentine Grand Prix
Last F1 race1993 Australian Grand Prix
F1 titles4
F1 teams4

Alain Prost's early career

Prost began competing in karts at the relatively late age of 14, having earlier been an active footballer, wrestler and roller-skater, where he picked up his distinctive off-kilter nose.

After winning several karting championships, Prost attended the prestigious Winfield Racing School in France, entering French Formula Renault in 1976 and winning the title in his first year, including victories in all but one race.

Further success followed in the European Formula Renault and Formula 3 championships, leading to his debut in Formula 1 with McLaren in 1980.

Prost finished sixth in his first race in Buenos Aires, worth a precious world championship point, but ended the season with only five points after a series of accidents.

He moved to Renault the following season, scoring his first podium back in Argentina and his first F1 victory in his home race at Dijon. Prost collected two more wins that season and ended the championship fifth, seven points behind winner Piquet.

Prost picked up six more wins over the next two years, finishing runner-up to Piquet in the 1983 championship.

Alain Prost's championship years

After a falling-out with Renault's management, Prost returned to McLaren for 1984, racing alongside the returning Niki Lauda.

The car proved dominant but despite winning seven grands prix, Prost was beaten to the title by half a point by Lauda. Prost made things right the following year, cruising to his first title by 20 points.

In 1986, Prost seemed destined to be foiled by Mansell's Williams, but the Englishman's famous tyre blow-out in Australia handled the title to Prost, who became the first back-to-back champion since 1960.

The McLaren was no match for the Williams in 1987, but Prost took his 28th career victory in Portugal, breaking Jackie Stewart's all-time record. Afterwards the Scot paid tribute, calling Prost "the best race driver of his generation".

The 1988 season was a phenomenal one for McLaren as Prost and his new team-mate Senna won 15 of the 16 races between them. However, despite scoring 11 more points than Senna over the season, Prost missed out on a third title as only the best 11 finishes counted towards the championship that year.

The following year, Prost and Senna's relationship fell apart to the extent that at the Japanese Grand Prix, with the title on the line, the pair collided. Senna continued and won the race but was subsequently disqualified, handing the title to the Frenchman.

Angry at perceived favouritism of Senna, Prost moved to Ferrari for 1990 and again battled the Brazilian for the championship. Once again the title was decided by a coming together between the pair at Suzuka, this time Senna being the beneficiary.

Outspoken about the team and car's shortcomings, Prost was fired by Ferrari before the last race of the 1991 season, leaving him out of a job in 1992.

But for 1993, Prost sealed a seat in the all-conquering Williams and duly romped to his fourth championship, afterwards retiring from F1.

Alain Prost's roles after racing

Prost went into team management after his driving career, finally buying the Ligier team in time for the 1997 season and renaming it Prost Grand Prix.

Olivioer Panis finished second in that year's Spanish Grand Prix, and Jarno Trulli was runner-up in the chaotic 1999 European Grand Prix, but wins eluded them and Prost wound up the team at the end of the 2001 season.

Prost enjoyed a more successful foray into Formula E, winning the inaugural teams championship in 2014. More latterly, he was an adviser with Renault's Alpine F1 team, until leaving the role in 2022.

Alain Prost's F1 record

  • 1980 McLaren, 16th
  • 1981 Renault, 5th, 3 wins
  • 1982 Renault, 4th, 2 wins
  • 1983 Renault, 2nd, 4 wins
  • 1984 McLaren, 2nd, 7 wins
  • 1985 McLaren, world champion, 5 wins
  • 1986 McLaren, world champion, 4 wins
  • 1987 McLaren, 4th, 3 wins
  • 1988 McLaren, 2nd, 7 wins
  • 1989 McLaren, world champion, 4 wins
  • 1990 Ferrari, 2nd, 5 wins
  • 1991 Ferrari, 5th
  • 1993 Williams, world champion, 7 wins

Alain Prost's Net Worth 

Prost is reportedly worth $78million, placing him 10th among F1 drivers all-time.

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