JANUARY 29, 2002
The end of "Les Bleues"
The team was reconstituted several times but success remained fleeting until 1992 when Guy Ligier, upset by having been jeered by crowds at Monaco, decided to sell the team to businessman Cyril de Rouvre. De Rouvre led the team to a minor revival in 1993 with British drivers Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle but at the end of the year he was arrested for financial irregularities and the team drifted through the winter months until bought by Flavio Briatore, who wanted access to the team's supply of Renault engines for Benetton. Having achieved that Briatore handed the team over to Tom Walkinshaw but Guy Ligier remained in the background as a minor shareholder and he blocked plans for Walkinshaw to take the team and move it to Britain.
In the Spring of 1996 Walkinshaw walked out and bought Arrows. Briatore installed Cesare Fiorio as team boss and Ligier benefited from technical "assistance" from Benetton. The result was the Honda-engined Benetton-lookalike car with which Olivier Panis won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1996.
At the start of 1997 Briatore sold the team to Alain Prost and the Ligier chassis were run as Prost-Mugen Hondas. The first Prost chassis were built in 1998 but the cars were never successful and the team was finally forced to close down yesterday, leaving nothing but debts.
Alain Prost has spoken of some bitterness towards French industry, which left him to fend for himself and admits that with hindsight it was a mistake to stay in France as the country's labor laws make it much more difficult for a Formula 1 team to operate effectively.
The team has lost a number of employees in recent months but still has around 180 people on its payroll.