Tommi Mäkinen has declared persuading six-time World Rally champion Sébastien Ogier to stay on with Toyota rather than retiring is one of his primary 2020 objectives.
Ogier has always maintained he will quit driving in the WRC at the end of this season – and he reiterated his plans hadn’t changed when he departed Citroen for Toyota at the end of 2019.
But Mäkinen said his frustration at what he now feels was his own premature retirement from the WRC made him think Ogier could reconsider.
He hopes 36-year-old Ogier will either eventually want to continue driving into 2021 or to take a sabbatical with the intention of returning.
“For me, in 2003 I knew I wanted to stop,” Mäkinen told DirtFish. “In this time, there was nothing but driving.
“After one year of rest, I started thinking: ‘Why, why, why? I could and I should continue’.
“It was like this for the next couple of years. I was thinking of one more year. I mentioned this to Seb already. I told him: ‘From my own experience, maybe you take one year as the rest and then you start thinking… [to come back]’. It took a long, long time to settle down.
“I know if Seb is able to win a few rallies this year it’s very, very hard to make that decision [to leave].
“You don’t get that feeling anymore. One of the biggest things is that you miss that feeling when you win and you can say to the rest: ‘I was faster than you, I beat you’.
“This is really the feeling, I can’t describe how good it is.”
Mäkinen said his focus was on building a car so good Ogier wouldn’t want to leave it.
“I have a feeling we are able to give him good enough car to keep him winning, keep him motivated and then maybe he will decide [to stay],” Mäkinen added.
“That’s only what we need to do. I’m sure if we can give him that good feeling that everybody is satisfied, motivated and everybody enjoys their work then it’s the same with Ogier – if he keeps enjoying it then he can continue. He’s not too old yet.
“We would want him to stay. We just try to do our best to keep him driving.”