Newly crowned eight-time World Rally champion Sébastien Ogier says he ‘sometimes regrets’ his decision not to retire from the WRC completely after this weekend’s Monza Rally.
Ogier clinched an eighth world title in nine years by winning the season’s final round, finishing 23 points clear of Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans in the standings.
He originally intended to end his full-time WRC career at the end of 2020 but delayed that by a year to 2021 because of the shortened nature of last year’s calendar due to COVID-19.
But while Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia has now retired from professional rallying, Ogier has committed to a part-time program with Toyota in 2022. He will start January’s Monte Carlo Rally but beyond that his program is unclear.
In an emotional interview with DirtFish’s Colin Clark, fresh from winning his eighth title on Sunday, Ogier was discussing the impact his family now has on him.
Ogier admitted that although he feels his choice to partially retire is the “right one for me”, he occasionally has doubts about his decision to not fully retire from the WRC – a decision his wife, German television presenter Andrea Kaiser, is known to believe Ogier should’ve made – as he feels he needs a break.
“I want to enjoy time with him [my son] more than anything right now, with my wife as well,” said Ogier.
“There is time for everything in life and I’m not that old either, so that means I already sometimes regret that I didn’t stop completely right now because I need to prepare already for Monte very soon and that doesn’t make me very happy to be honest.
“But I think there is no perfect way to end a career anyway. We are all struggling to find a way to do it, and my way to do it I feel is the right one for me right now because I want to have more time for myself and my family but somehow I still keep my feet in the sport and it’s matching the actual rules, as it’s nice for a team to have a third car shared by drivers so somehow everyone is happy.
“But I think somehow I need a break. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m always a guy of extremes. When I do something, I do something 100%, or I don’t do it. But the thing is maybe after these 15 years putting so much energy into it, I maybe emptied my tank of motivation, even excitement, a little bit.
“Sometimes you lose a little bit of the excitement, and it cannot be like this as it was a dream of mine to do that [rally] and still I enjoy it so much.
“But when you reach this point and you realize that you are thinking too much about the negatives when you go to a race compared to all this joy that it brings you, that’s maybe the time that you need to reset a little bit, take a break at least.
“Maybe that comes to a complete end, maybe I miss it and I come back a little bit more, I don’t know. Because I’m still not that old maybe for rallying. But right now I need this break.”
Ogier will not realistically get much of a break until late January, as he will soon get his first test of Toyota’s new Rally1 car and then be testing and preparing for the Monte Carlo Rally, which begins in just under two months.