Neuville backs Abiteboul to manage him and Tänak

There were flashpoints between the two when they were last Hyundai team-mates, but that was without a firm team boss

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Thierry Neuville sees no reason why he and impending Hyundai team-mate Ott Tänak can’t work well together next season now there is a permanent boss in place.

Tänak first partnered Neuville in 2020 when Andrea Adamo was in charge at Hyundai, and throughout both of the ’20 or ’21 seasons there were no flashpoints – at least publicly.

But things were more tense last year. Amid a slow start to the new Rally1 technical regulations for Hyundai, powertrain manager Julien Moncet was promoted to deputy team director in the wake of Adamo’s departure, but as deputy didn’t have full control over the team.

Tänak grew frustrated by the lack of direction, and was clearly unhappy about Hyundai’s decision not to let him win the Acropolis ahead of Neuville when it was him who still had an outside shot at the drivers’ championship, and so decided to seek refuge in M-Sport Ford for 2023.

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But the Estonian is heading back to Alzenau after just one year in a Puma, where he will once again join Neuville.

Neuville has benefited from unprecedented number one status within the team this season, with his team-mates all instructed to move aside for him at various points throughout the year.

But with Tänak returning, that privilege will likely disappear.

The Belgian is however happy to see his old team-mate return, saying Hyundai made the “right call” in poaching him.

“What are my thoughts? I mean it’s not a surprise, to be honest. For me even less than for you guys,” Neuville told DirtFish.

“But I think we all knew that Ott didn’t want to continue with Ford, and maybe Ford didn’t want to continue with him, I don’t know.

“But we are looking for strong drivers and Ott is one of the strongest drivers on the market, and Hyundai made the right the call to secure him as fast as possible.”


Neuville is confident that with team principal Cryil Abiteboul in charge, there should be no friction.

“I think from my point of view it can work,” he said.

“Now at least we have a boss, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for him to manage the drivers. And anyhow, for my side, I mean for me it was always an open book.

“Everybody can know what are my setups, what are my tire choices, and there has been no secrets since I’m rallying, and it won’t change from my side.

“I think Ott is a clever guy and I don’t see any problem with that,” Neuville added. “But for sure, we’re going to be both fighting for the championship.

“There might be some tension here and there but that’s why we have the boss and the management to take the good decisions.”


Neuville also doesn’t believe Tänak’s arrival will have any bearing on whether he can finally become world champion or not.

“I think it won’t change anything,” he stated.

“Obviously Ott was maybe a little bit out of the game this year, but I mean if you don’t get things working 100% like it should be working, I won’t be champion next year.

“So we have work left on the car and the reliability especially, like we saw this year, so we need to work on that.”