The Prost JS45
was the car with which the Prost Formula One
team used to compete in the 1997 Formula One season
. It was initially driven by Olivier Panis
, who continued from the team's previous incarnation as Ligier
, and Japanese rookie Shinji Nakano
, who was given the second seat largely due to pressure on new team owner Alain Prost
from engine supplier Mugen Honda
During the off-season, the Ligier team had been bought from Flavio Briatore
by Prost, who renamed the team after him. This marked the end of the Ligier name in F1 after involvement in the sport since . However, lead driver Panis remained with the team, as did the Mugen engines. The car had been designed and built before Prost's acquisition of the team, so retained its Ligier designation of JS45
. However, the team was one of several who opted for Bridgestone
tyres in the Japanese's company's first year of F1.
In the early stages of the season, the car proved extremely promising. The problems of braking and pitch sensitivity with the Ligier had been largely solved, and this, allied with Panis' skill and the durability of the Bridgestones, took Prost to two podium finishes in the first six race. After the 1997 Spanish Grand Prix
, Championship leader Villeneuve said that he regarded Panis as one of his main threats for the rest of the season.
However, a suspected suspension failure or puncture caused Panis to crash heavily into a concrete wall at the very next race
, breaking both legs and removing him from the... Read More