Alain Prost Reflects on Career and Ferrari's Choice of Hamilton as First Driver

“I have never been officially the first driver at a team – never."- Prost said.

by Sead Dedovic
Alain Prost Reflects on Career and Ferrari's Choice of Hamilton as First Driver
© Michael King/Getty Images Sport

Alain Prost is a man who has achieved great things in his career, but just like the career of any athlete, his is marked by certain mistakes, at least when it comes to his decisions. Prost, in an interview for Servus TV, discussed Ferrari's decision to engage Lewis Hamilton as the first driver of the team starting from the next season. 

Prost emphasized that Ferrari certainly has intentions to win the championship next season, and when you have such a goal in mind, all attention is focused on the first driver. Alain talked about mistakes in his career, primarily the fact that he never asked the team to be the first driver. The F1 legend believes that was probably a mistake. 

He thinks he could have achieved much greater success if he had made such demands.

“I have never been officially the first driver at a team – never. I never asked for that, but maybe it was a mistake.”-Prost said, as quoted by

“If I had been the first driver, perhaps one of the years at McLaren, or in 1990 at Ferrari, I could have won the world title, because things would have gone differently.”

Reflecting on the history of this sport and the many legends within it, Prost is aware that each of them was a first driver. Interestingly, all of the mentioned individuals were unique characters and personalities who shared a lot in common. To achieve success, they were willing to do anything. Prost might have approached certain moments in his career differently, but now it's too late for that. Nevertheless, despite everything, his career is successful and one of the most accomplished in the world of F1.

“If you look at history, Ayrton (Senna) was always the first driver, and the same goes for Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Max Verstappen. And that actually applies to all championships in the last 20 years.”- Prost continued.

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton
Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton© Clive Mason/Getty Images Sport

Prost is saying that at Ferrari, it's really important to have one main driver because of the team's long history and the high pressures they face. He thinks having a clear top driver is crucial due to the extra pressure and complex politics involved, which might not always be easy to understand.  The first driver usually has to be the more experienced one, although that's not always the case. Typically, these are individuals who can handle pressure exceptionally well, with a high tolerance for stress. They know how to navigate situations where many others might struggle.

He also explains that when a team has a clear number 1 driver, it helps them handle external factors like politics, especially when competing against other teams. Prost gives an example from his own experience in 1986 when he won the championship. 

He was up against Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, who were teammates at Williams and didn't have team orders. Prost used this lack of a clear hierarchy within the team to his advantage and won the championship.

Alain Prost on who will be the first driver next season and how it will impact the team

Prost was thinking about what it means when a team like Ferrari decides on its strategy. He suggested that if a team doesn't have a good chance of winning the championship, they might not need to have a top, first driver. It is indeed challenging to expect anyone to disrupt Red Bull's plans this season, especially judging by the first race. However, this is just the beginning, and many races lie ahead of us. Experts anticipate a continued dominance by Max Verstappen and the confirmation of the title. Nevertheless, a lot can change before the next season. Ferrari's leaders must work hard, analyze the situation, and make the right decisions.

However, if the team has a real chance of winning, especially with drivers like Lewis and Charles, Prost believes it will be interesting to see how they manage without a clear number 1 driver.  

He thinks it will be challenging for the team management but exciting for fans. Prost believes that not having a specific first driver, at least on paper, is good for the sport overall. 

Ferrari's leaders are hopeful that Hamilton can be the figure to bring additional quality and experience to the team. Without that, it's challenging to expect them to take a step further and achieve success. However, the British driver is also urging the team's leaders to provide him with a car that is capable of competing at the very top. We will see whether they will grant him that opportunity. Hamilton is accustomed to being a driver at the very top, and the current situation at Mercedes may not be to his liking.

Ferrari Hamilton