A Cuckoo in the Collection
For many years those lucky enough to visit the Williams museum in either Grove, or Didcot before that, would have come across an ex-Alain Prost Ferrari 641 in the collection. How on earth would an F1 Ferrari have made its way from Maranello to Grove? For the answer to that we have to go back to 1990.
Jean Alesi burst onto the scene in 1989 with Tyrell and, most memorably in a dice with Ayrton Senna at the 1990 US Grand Prix in Phoenix. This left the young Frenchman as hot property with everyone wanting his services.
Alesi was courted by Williams and the team signed him to run in 1991. It isn’t recorded who he would have partnered but it would presumably have been with Riccardo Patrese. However, when Mansell “retired” from F1 mid-season Ferrari were left looking for a replacement and Alesi fitted the bill.
Despite having a signed contract with Williams the allure of driving for the Italian team was too much for Alesi and he looked to do a deal. The exact terms of settlement between Williams and Ferrari aren’t known but is has been suggested that there was a payment of $4M USD and a 1990 Ferrari 641, delivered to the team at the beginning of 1993. Williams co-founder Patrick Head has said that the team learnt nothing from the car and it would have been better to ask for more cash!
The car is no longer in the collection as it was sold around 2003 and its current whereabouts are unknown.
The following pictures were taken at both the Didcot and Grove museums.