But for a twist of fate Alain Prost might have become a professional footballer instead of a four-time World Champion. Born in The winner of more Grand Prix victories than anyone in history remains a controversial figure when the discussion turns to the greatest drivers of all time. Some are put off by his calculating nature but I do not have any such qualms, as a sober inspection of his record can leave no doubt that he was one of the best. Without Sennas aura or Clarks boyish charm he went about his way winning races and titles.
After a successful career in the junior formulae he was offered a drive with McLaren in the last race of the 1979 season at Watkins Glen. To the surprise of everyone he turned them down thinking that it would be a mistake to race a Formula 1 car without proper preparation. After a test at Paul Ricard he signed with McLaren for the following season. He made his Formula 1 debut in Argentina in 1980. Driving a less than competitive car he out raced his more experienced teammate, John Watson and ended up in sixth place. But the rest of the season was marred by mechanical failures that resulted in a broken wrist and a concussion. Prost had enough and left the team in disgust. In 1981 he joined the resurgent French team Renault as number two to René Arnoux. Again he would overshadow his more experienced teammate and score his first victory at the French Grand Prix. This was followed by victories at Zandvoort and Monza. In 1983 he finished second to Nelson Piquet in the World Championship.
Tiring of the pressure to become the first French World Champion driving a French car he returned to McLaren. But this was a very different McLaren, having been taken over by Ron Dennis with a car designed by John Barnard. He again finished runner-up in for the title, this time to his new teammate Niki Lauda. In 1985 he finally won the first of four titles.
Repeating in 1986 after a three-way shoot-out with Nigel Mansell and Piquet. 1988 saw him partnered with Ayrton Senna. Thus began one of the greatest rivalries in motor sports. A rivalry that was marked by off-course excursions and mutual antipathy that was thankfully resolved shortly before the great Brazilians death. 1990 saw him move to Ferrari and a disastrous stint that ended up in his firing from that team. Amazingly a driver of Prost's caliber had been fired from two teams, Renault and now Ferrari. After sitting out 1992 Alain Prost returned to Grand Prix racing as a member of the Williams team. Driving with such precision, it was as if he had never left, he claimed his fourth and final title. Alain Prost is now the owner of his own team, Prost Grand Prix and is bringing the same amount of care and attention to detail that hallmarked his remarkable racing career.