Four-time world champion and Renault Sport ambassador Alain Prost likes the changes to Formula 1 that have come into force this year. But he believes more needs to be done to maximise the sport’s spectacle.
“I don’t like DRS [Drag Reduction System] overtaking,” he tells me during the Shanghai motor show, where Renault has just revealed its 2027 Vision F1 concept. “The spectators know that if it’s not difficult, if it’s not a special manoeuvre, there’s no point. I prefer the way it is in 2017 [where it has less effect].”
He’s not that into the current V6 engines either, claiming that they’re not powerful enough. “I think we need a change because we should have more power,” he says. “We should have an engine that’s a little bit more simple and if it’s possible less expensive, but still with the electrical part for sure.”
Mercedes says its drivetrain, which is the sport’s quickest, produces 900bhp. But in Prost’s day, the car’s were sending 1400bhp to their rear wheels in qualifying trim, so no wonder he thinks today’s engines are lacking.
“When I go back to drive one of the turbo cars [of the 1980s] I cannot believe how I did it. The feet are in front of the axle and there was no safety [features] on the tracks. It was really, really mad,” he smiles.
“It was also so difficult to drive. When I recently drove my 1983 [Renault RE40] car, I could not remember what I was doing with this car. I was so astonished and thought how could I have ever done that?”
But Prost, who’s often remembered for the times he went head to head with Ayrton Senna, doesn’t think F1 cars should become dangerous, difficult animals again. Instead, he thinks more input from a hybrid system could be a good and relevant way to speed things up and boost the spectacle.
“We have to stay away from anything artificial in motor racing,” he adds. “Artificial things in racing do not work.”