Turns out, we were wrong. I was wrong. Sébastien Ogier offered genuine clarity on his future at last week’s Safari Rally Kenya. And he couldn’t have been more transparent: regardless of results, he has no plans to defend a 2021 title next season.
DirtFish sources had been assured Ogier would stay on to fight for a ninth World Rally Championship crown if he were to clinch an eighth title this season.
The 37-year-old himself said that’s not the case.
“It is very clear in my mind that I won’t complete the championship next year,” he said. “I’ve kept it open that I might do some rallies – maybe it will be only one, maybe a few. Definitely nothing above that.”
What we were right about is the potential for a more wide-ranging Toyota contract – one that would allow Ogier to achieve his dream of competing at Le Mans.
Ogier admitted discussions about him taking a seat in a Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar hadn’t moved on much recently – something he was keen to change.
“This [2022 contract] is something I need to discuss with the team,” he added.
“It’s also no secret that my dream is going to Le Mans and circuit racing. So there are things that need to be clarified first, to see if I get a chance to do that or not.
“That will influence if I do some rallies or not. The only thing I am clear on is that I definitely want to be freer than I am now.
After I’ve been rallying and had a life like mine I believe you cannot stop from all to nothingSébastien Ogier
“I am planning on spending time with my family and with my son I am enjoying seeing him growing. The plan has always been to try and spend this last year before he goes to school to maybe travel the world and do some amazing things together.
“That’s something that is 100% sure. Let’s see what I can fit still in my calendar. I might keep a bit of rallying in so I don’t get bored.
“Like everyone else, you need a bit of adrenaline, after I’ve been rallying and had a life like mine – very intense for the past 15 years – I believe you cannot stop from all to nothing.
“I have to try and find the fine balance for next year to try and be as happy as possible. But life is always a compromise.”
Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala will also be keen to nail down Ogier’s plans so he can decide who goes where next season.
Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä will both remain in Toyotas through 2022, but a part-program for Ogier means an opening for another driver.
Current speculation is that Esapekka Lappi will be that driver. Latvala has heard the stories, but said nothing has been decided.
“If Sébastien is like this [and only doing selected rallies] this would mean that we would need another driver to split the car with Ogier,” said Latvala.
“Nothing is decided for this driver. It is still open.”
Who do you think Toyota should try and sign? The comments box is open for your input!