Alain Prost’s position as one of the most successful F1 drivers of all time is too often overlooked. He won 51 Grands Prix – more than any other driver bar Michael Schumacher – and four world championship – fewer only than Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio.
Against that terrific record you have to ask, where are all the books about this exceptional racer?
“Life in the Fast Lane” (what an awful name for a book about a racing driver) is one of the few titles about Prost and, regardless of the fact that it pre-dates the end of his career by five years it still tells us plenty about him.
Even if it does so with a total absence of flair.
This book is particularly important because it was first published in 1988. In that respect, we might call it “Alain Prost: The pre-Ayrton Senna years”. Or at least, before the animosity between the two severely got out of hand.
Unfortunately the book is so light on detail it actually reveals very little.
It is clear that, prior to the arrival of Senna, none of Prost’s team mate really pushed him very hard – even Niki Lauda, even given the fact that Lauda won the 1984 title from Prost by a mere half-point. There were few days when the Austrian outgunned him.
There is particularly little detail on his early years, just a cursory couple of chapters. Personal information is non-existant.
The book is translated from a French original and the prose is unbearably leaden: “this happened, then this happened…” and so on. It’s like reading “The Da Vinci Code” again.
Since his departure from the sport in 2001 following the collapse of his own team, Prost has shunned the spotlight to an even greater degree, emerging only during the winter of last year to win the Trophee Andros ice-racing championship is a graceless PR exercise by Toyota.
His nemesis Senna has many books to his name and some of them are even worth reading. That’s understandable given Senna’s massive charisma and terrible death.
But it’s time justice was done to Prost’s career as well. Even given its obvious limitations this doesn’t come anywhere near close to a worthy account.
1988 (French original)
Stanley Paul & Co.