A few Formula One drivers can claim a legacy as profound as Alain Prost. His remarkable career, highlighted by four drivers’ titles and 51 Grand Prix victories, places him among the sport’s elite.
Despite his achievements, Prost often doesn’t receive the same recognition as contemporaries like Senna, and Clark. In an insightful interview with MotorSport, Prost candidly addresses this oversight, revealing his perspective on being undervalued in F1 history.
His reflections offer a unique glimpse into the mind of a racing legend who feels overshadowed in the annals of the sport. “I’m completely underrated,” the F1 legend told MotorSport.
Prost’s F1 legacy is often overshadowed by his intense rivalry with Senna, starting when they were teammates at McLaren, driving the powerful MP4/4. Prost, known as ‘The Professor’ for his strategic approach, contrasted sharply with the passionate and daring Senna.
Before Senna, Prost had amicable relations with teammates like Lauda and Johansson. Their dynamic changed with Senna’s arrival at McLaren, a tension hinted at earlier during a 1984 exhibition race at the Nürburgring.
“I got the pole position and he jumped the start!” remembers Prost. “I didn’t know how good he was, but we knew… I understood. It was only in 1988 when I saw him in the same car that I knew how good he was. Then at our first test together in Imola I saw it was going to be difficult.”
Prost has expressed that the intense competitiveness and the negative environment that developed at McLaren did not align with his preferences.
“I cannot say I enjoyed it the same, I cannot lie,” said Prost. “Before I enjoyed racing, enjoyed fighting. Remember with Nelson [Piquet], we were going on holidays together the same year we were fighting for the championship in 1983.”
He continued: “Keke was unbelievable, one of my best team-mates. Everybody said at the beginning of the year it would be a disaster. Then when Ayrton came we reached a level of performance and obviously you enjoy it a little bit less. I really suffered a lot, so you cannot enjoy it the same way.”
Alain Prost, renowned in the Formula 1 world as ‘The Professor,’ shares his candid thoughts on the contrasts between his racing style and that of his famed rival, Ayrton Senna.
Prost, known for his clinical approach, contrasts with Senna’s more ‘mystic’ and flamboyant style.
“Ayrton represented more panache. I was the ‘Professor’, clinical. He was ‘mystic’ and people liked that. When he impressed me I must say it was in qualifying sometimes, I don’t remember when exactly. Never in race conditions. Never. In race conditions, in the warm-up, most of the time I was quicker.
“I do ask myself sometimes how I am going to be remembered. It sounds like a joke but I’m completely underrated! I know that. I can see. I don’t know why, but it’s my brand in a way.”