Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala wouldn’t stand in Sébastien Ogier’s way should the eight-time world champion change his mind and consider increasing the number of rallies he wants to contest this year.
This is the second season that Ogier will not be competing in every rally, after he elected to move slightly away from rallying to focus on other forms of motorsport last year.
But having contested two of the three rallies so far this season – and won them both – Ogier now has a three-point lead over Thierry Neuville in the championship.
Asked if he would back Ogier should he want to enter more events than his current plan, Latvala said he would be happy to have him given what he brings to the team.
“He has said that he wants to do about seven rounds [this year],” he explained to DirtFish.
“But of course if he wants to do more, then we need to look at it carefully because he’s a great asset for our team.
“And in case the championship is a tight fight, of course there is a very good asset to use him if he wants to drive more.
“I’m sure he doesn’t want to do the full championship, but there might be rounds if he wants to do.”
However, Latvala said he won’t force the issue and will let the 39-year-old make up his own mind.
“I don’t want to push him,” he said.
“He needs to come from himself because if you start pushing too much to him then it doesn’t necessarily… if you don’t feel comfortable, then it’s not the same story.”
He added: “If we had problems in the championship, if it’s getting tight in the championship, we can ask him, could you do one or two rallies more?
“And I think this is the really big value of what we know that we could have.”
Speaking from his own experience, the 37-year-old said as long as Ogier is enjoying himself on the rallies, he will continue to do more.
“That is correct. This is absolutely right,” he said when asked if Ogier is as relaxed as ever.
“But that’s sometimes what we as top drivers, where we forget sometimes – as a former top driver, I know myself that you forget sometimes the enjoyment of the driving and you start to work.
“OK, it is work. But if you take it too much as work and you forget the enjoyment, you lose a bit of performance from driving for sure.”