Alain Prost has dismissed claims that due to the team's uncompetitive state they will miss the first Grand Prix of the year in Melbourne and continue testing until their reliability problems have been fixed.

Prost, who turned 45 on Thursday, has reassured fans that no matter what state the team is in, they will be on the grid at Albert Park on March 12th. Prost, who was nicknamed 'The Professor' in his driving days is a renowned perfectionist and some corners of the F1 fraternity believed that he would keep his cars in France to avoid embarrassment. Even though Prost and his drivers Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld are unhappy with the car's performance Alain told reporters, "It would be out of the question to give up this 1st race."

The statement comes as a reaction to the remarks made by Heidfeld recently that the team could not go to Melbourne in their current plight. Alain told reporters that Heidfeld's concerns were "completely normal" for a young driver and has not taken any action against his steed. It should be remembered that Alain himself was fired by Ferrari in 1991 for making disparaging remarks about their car. Perhaps young Nick would do well to remember who is the boss just for the moment.

The Alan Jenkins/ John Barnard designed AP03 gave the French concern nothing but headaches for its first few weeks and only during the team's final preparation test at Jerez this week were they able to coax a race distance run out of it. Jean Alesi was able to run over 50 laps on Thursday whilst on the final day of the test (Friday) Nick Heidfeld ran for 71 laps.

The car has a great deal of potential to offer once the team can get it to be a reliable proposition. The car's aerodynamics were put in place by Loic Bigois and the car itself was designed by two of the most respected designers in the sport, Jenkins and Barnard. Engine supplier Peugeot have come up with a very compact and powerful engine and the team have F1's most experienced driver in Alesi, and a highly talented rookie in Heidfeld on the driving staff. If and when the package comes together France's 'national' team may well spring a few surprises.