M-Sport driver Esapekka Lappi does not expect to compete in the World Rally Championship next season and says he will probably “have a very, very nice time at home” instead.
Lappi joined the M-Sport Ford squad for 2020 and finished the campaign as its lead driver in the championship, bookending his campaign with fourth-place finishes on the Monte Carlo Rally season opener and the Monza Rally title decider.
But a question mark now hangs over his future after comments in his final stage-end interview of the season in which he replied “I’m afraid not” when asked if he would be at next season’s Monte Carlo Rally in January.
Speaking to DirtFish, Lappi reiterated that he does not expect to have a deal next year.
“Probably, I will have a very, very nice time at home,” he said, when about his hopes for the 2021 season.
Asked if that meant there was no indication he would stay with M-Sport or there were no other offers forthcoming, he added: “No, I will stay at home.”
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson said last month that the team would not be rushed into deciding its 2021 driver line-up.
Expanding on why he would decide to step away from the WRC, 2017 Rally Finland winner Lappi said: “When you’ve done this as work for nine years, and if you don’t get paid anymore, there is some value for the time to be at home with your kids as well.
“For example, if I take [in] a year, 200 days away, you don’t get anything in return.
“So I think it’s not worth it anymore, even though I like to compete, I love to drive, I would like to really fight for the top [positions] and try to win the races, but there are two sides here.”
The 29-year-old said his situation was “not that unusual”, citing the example of Andreas Mikkelsen – who won three rallies with Volkswagen before been left without a seat in the top class for the majority of 2017 and all but one of the 2020 events.
“I also feel that I’m at my best now because I’ve gained some experience through the years, but I just need to accept the situation,” added Lappi.