Monday, September 06, 2010

Proustian memory

I remark that Barry Sheene recently told me how much he admires Alain Prost, that, as well as being a wonderful driver in his day, Prost is also a thoroughly decent chap. "That's bullshit," snaps Brundle. "I was never a Prost fan. I didn't rate Prost as a person." (The Independent, 2nd August 2000).

Involuntary memory is a conception of human memory in which cues encountered in everyday life evoke recollections of the past without conscious effort...The term was coined by French author Marcel Proust. (Wikipedia, Involuntary Memory).

Why did you leave the Renault team at the end of 1983? "I knew that if the team lost the title that year, there'd be a witch-hunt in an attempt to find the people responsible. I was the ideal culprit, so I protected myself by getting in touch with McLaren. The team had just signed a contract with Porsche, and I had the opportunity to learn alongside a world champion [Niki Lauda]. I didn't hesitate for very long; it was just the right moment to try something new." (Alain Prost, Autosport, August 26th 2010).

Persistent rumours linked [Prost] with the pretty and charming wife of one of his superiors in Renault; the gossip columnists of France (with no more mercy than the tabloid press in England) pursued him to beyond and back. Alain denied the rumours, but to no effect; to me, he admitted he had been indiscreet. At the same time, John Watson, who had had a satisfactory but not earth-shaking season with Lauda at McLaren, was pushed by his agent to ask for a gigantic sum...and got the sack. That left a vacant seat at McLaren, a scandal at Renault (Alain said he walked out of his own accord, Renault said he had been 'dropped', and the truth is that Renault did a deal with McLaren) and Prost signed with Ron Dennis. (Keith Botsford, The Champions of Formula 1, p165).

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