Drivers at the very top of World Rally Championship competition are unified in just one way. Regardless of the generation, irrespective of the era, their cars are just not quite quick enough.
If they could just get a little bit more torque out of that hairpin or a touch more grunt at the top end on that straight; couldn’t the transmission just be tweaked for that twisty middle section?
That would be the perfect car.
It’s unusual to find drivers considering the commercial aspect of the sport, they’re not normally the ones doing the cost-benefit analysis.
All of which makes it all the more refreshing that world champions Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak have called on the FIA to have a re-think on the cost of the next generation of Rally1 cars.
Ogier, by his own admission, won’t be around for 2022, but the Frenchman speaks from the heart and for the good of a sport he’s dominated for much of the last decade.
Both Ogier and Tänak talk with authority and clarity on how budgets could be cut and the implications of the post-COVID 19 era. And it’s not just the cars that come in for consideration, it’s the format, it’s every aspect of the WRC.
Asked by DirtFish’s Colin Clark during the latest episode of DirtFish Debates if he thought the FIA should revisit the 2022 regulations, Ogier replied: “I would really think so, yeah, definitely. Because this crisis is harder than any crisis that has happened in the last I don’t know how many years.
“For sure a lot of parameters are changing right now, so it would be clever to re-talk about it and rethink when we know a bit more about the consequences from this crisis. I think it will be wise to do that.
“You know I haven’t been looking so much at the 2022 rules because in ’22, I do not expect to be there at all. But definitely making the car cheaper will be one of the steps.
“For me it’s still important that the cars look spectacular. That will be the best.
“I think if you ask every driver, they will always ask to have performance cars, but the truth is at the end of the day as long as we have enough competitors and comparable material, there’s always going to be a competition and an interesting fight to follow.
“Of course at the moment I think we enjoy to drive fantastic cars that are incredibly fast and very spectacular, but maybe at some point we will come to a situation where maybe performance has to drop a little bit if it’s for saving the sport.”
On the subject of the rallies, Ogier added: “You can also look into the format of the rally. Maybe trying to make it a little bit more compact.
“I’m pretty sure we’ve been talking about this idea for a while and trying to have two intense days of competition will maybe be enough. And try to reduce the amount of time that the team have to go out.”
Tänak echoed those thoughts on the format, pointing out an apparently diminishing attention span for the current and next generation of rally fans.
He said: “As Séb mentioned, it’s not only the car and the regulation and the cost of running the car, it’s also many other things. It’s running the team to the races, it’s the way the race has been built up, it can be a lot more efficient.
“All these things. I believe that these days the people are so kind of eager that they want something that happens now, it happens for a short time and then afterwards things start to go for too long.
“It starts to be boring. I guess the format of the rallying has been like this for quite a long time. There are many other areas where it could be a bit more efficient.”