World Champions put their weight behind F1s ‘seniors tour’
Four-time World Champion Alain Prost has committed to the pilot Grand Prix Masters race later this year — and he could be joined by fellow legend Emerson Fittipaldi.
Double World Champion and ex-Champ Car title winner Fittipaldi, who has not competed since suffering serious back injuries in 1996, stated that he intends to try a GPM car in testing before making a decision whether or not to participate in the opening race at Kyalami in South Africa on November 13.
“GPM is a great idea — I like the concept,” said the 58-year old Brazilian of the one-make open-wheeler series for retired F1 drivers over the age of 35. “I don’t know if I will race but it would be fun. I hear Alan Jones is doing it — it would be fun to race against him again.”
Fittipaldi, along with 1980 World Champion Jones and seven-time GP winner René Arnoux, attended the official launch of the GPM formula at the Durban Motor Show on March 23, with the Frenchman demonstrating a rebranded Zytek (née Reynard) Formula Nippon car in the South African coastal town. The definitive Zytek chassis, powered by a 600bhp 3.6-litre V8, is expected imminently.
Originally scheduled to take place during the summer, there are plans for further races in the Middle East to take place during the 2005-06 European ‘off-season’, although a calendar has yet to be announced.
Four-time F1 World Champion Prost, meanwhile, is looking forward to the first Masters race. “It’s a good idea,” he said. “The concept is nice. A lot of people like nostalgia and as long as it’s done in the right way it should be really good. It will be great to drive against people such as Alan Jones, Carlos Reutemann (the Argentinian racer-turned politician had not committed as we went to press) and Emerson — all the guys from my generation. If Keke (Rosberg) and Stefan (Johansson) were there too, then it would be good to race against my old teammates. I am taking life as its comes right now. I don’t want things to get too serious.”
Those already committed to appearing at the first event include F1 backmarker-turned-broadcaster Christian Danner and three-time GP winner and current sportscar star Johnny Herbert, who won in F1 as recently as 1999.