The Old Rumour Mill – August

Old stories from the depths of the F1 archives including how a pair of businessmen tried to bring Vanwall back to F1 in 1999.

Plus the thwarted dream of a Grand Prix in London – and Alain Prost’s year off that never was.

Prost to take sabbatical

Autosport, August 7th 1986

Will his usual foresight, Alain Prost feared his McLaren team would be far less competitive in 1987. Support from engine suppliers Porsche (financed by TAG) was waning, so the ’85 champion considered taking a year’s sabbatical. He said: “It would be good for my health to have a rest, then come back very strong in 1988.”

But he won the 1986 championship and didn’t take the year off. He won a handful of races, surpassing Jackie Stewart’s record of most victories (then 27). In 1988 McLaren replaced the TAG-Porsche engines with Porsches, but Prost lost the title to new team mate Ayrton Senna.

He eventually did take a year’s sabbatical in 1992, having been fired by Ferrari in 1991. He returned with Williams in 1993 to win a final, fourth championship, and then retired for good.

Vanwall to return to F1

Motorsport, August 1997

Vanwall won the first F1 constructors’ championship in 1958, but just two years later a Vanwall chassis contested a Grand Prix for the last time – in Reims, France.

In 1997 news of a plan to resurrect the historic marque surfaced. A company named VF One, which bought the rights to the Vanwall trademark, aimed to re-establish the name in motor racing.

VF One’s owners John Minet and David Laird hoped to get a team on the F1 grid by 1999 if funding materialised. Sadly, it did not.

London Olympics win boosts GP chances

F1 Racing, August, 2005

When London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics it gave hope to those pushing for an F1 race around the streets of London. A demo was held in 2004 and attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Sadly hopes for such a race have since been well and truly scuppered. More recently, Ferrari couldn’t even get permission to film a sequence of action for its brilliant F1 advert that aired earlier this year. The authorities were concerned about the risk to public safety. Apparently it wasn’t a problem for New York or Rome…

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