When their glory days dry up, sports stars usually start living the good life they were denied when they competed on a world stage. Not Alain Prost. The Frenchman was ludicrously fit at his F1 peak but today, aged 55, he is ‘one or two kilos’ lighter still – thanks to a gruelling programme both on four wheels and two.
Prost’s main automotive activity is now France’s Trophée Andros ice-racing series where the cars seem permanently sideways. But he also competes in a dozen cycle races every year at distances up to 200km, similar to the stages of the Tour de France. Easy life? Hardly. But what else would we expect of a man once famously described as having a level of mental discipline beyond the comprehension of most people…
“It’s not about discipline, it’s more about attitude,” says Prost. “Sports stars very often change their attitude when they stop but I did not change mine. I always needed to do sport and I still do. Even if I have planes to catch and meetings to go to, I have to plan at least one hour’s jogging. That could seem boring for people but I’m never bored. I am 55, I enjoy all kinds of sports and there are still lots of things I want to do.
“With the cycle races you need a training programme so you need discipline for the food and everything – but that’s what I like. When you have a target, whether or not you achieve it, you work for it. That is something that I really need mentally.
“But I also never set the objectives too high. I like to reach my targets as I don’t like to be disappointed! Take the Race of Champions: obviously I’m going to do my best but I know I cannot have too high expectations.”
Four-time F1 world champion Prost may be the most experienced racer of everyone next weekend, but he remains a ROC newcomer. As such ‘Le Professeur’ is happy to play the ‘learner’ card. Prost lines up with fellow multiple champion Sébastien Loeb for Team France in The ROC Nations Cup, but he admits Team Germany will be hard to beat.
“People like Michael and Sebastian have got used to this type of race and circuit – but most importantly cars like the buggies and the KTM X-Bow, which I’ve never driven. So I honestly don’t know where I’m going to stand up.
“It’s very different to what I used to do in F1. Even in the ice races we work to set up the car and change it every 10 minutes to adapt to different heat and track conditions – as the ice changes all the time during the day.
“So Düsseldorf will be very different for me. You jump in the car, just set up the seat and the pedals and go for it. The most important thing is to have fun and be part of it – but to be at least a bit competitive…”
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Drivers confirmed for the 2010 Race of Champions:
- Sebastian VETTEL, 2010 Formula 1 World Champion
- Michael SCHUMACHER, Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
- Alain PROST, Four-time Formula 1 World Champion
- Sébastien LOEB, Seven-time World Rally Champion
- Mick DOOHAN, Five-time World 500cc Motorcycling Champion
- Tom KRISTENSEN, Eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
- Heikki KOVALAINEN, Formula 1 grand prix winner
- Andy PRIAULX, Three-time World Touring Car Champion
- Jason PLATO, Two-time British Touring Car Champion
- Alvaro PARENTE, GP2 race winner & winner ROC South Europe 2010
- Filipe ALBUQUERQUE, A1GP race winner & winner ROC South Europe 2010
- Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN, Two-time Porsche Supercup Champion
- Bertrand BAGUETTE, 2009 World Series by Renault Champion
- Carl EDWARDS, 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion
- Travis PASTRANA, Eleven-time X-Games gold medallist