Should M-Sport have benched Fourmaux instead?

M-Sport has decided to keep Adrien Fourmaux in its Rally Portugal lineup, but was that the right call?


Adrien Fourmaux’s place on the Rally Portugal entry looked to be on the line when M-Sport Ford team principal Richard Millener told DirtFish he and Malcolm Wilson would be having a meeting about it this week.

But the #16 Ford Puma Rally1 will compete on the first gravel World Rally Championship event of the season after all, lining up in the M-Sport fold alongside four other Pumas for Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith, Sébastien Loeb and Pierre-Louis Loubet.

Has M-Sport made the right call keeping him in the lineup, or should it have followed up on its threat and dropped Fourmaux for Portugal? Our writers share their thoughts:

M-Sport has missed an opportunity

It feels a bit rich to be judging a driver management call Malcolm Wilson has made given his track record of nurturing emerging talent. If anybody knows what to do in this situation, it’s Wilson.

However, on this occasion I’m not sure I agree with his decision. What Fourmaux needs now more than ever is a bit of perspective, so giving him time to reset, realizing what he could be giving up if his run of form continues would’ve been the best tonic right now – even if Fourmaux himself will most likely not see it that way at all.

Fourmaux’s potential is sky high – you need only think back to the stunning impression he made on his top-flight debut last year to remember that. But the honeymoon period is very much over and something simply has to change.


Because it’s not just the mistakes, it’s the attitude towards them that causes concern. It doesn’t matter if he felt M-Sport had a part to play in his crash last weekend or not, publicly pointing that out – as Fourmaux did to French television – is just not a sensible course of action to take, as much as it’s brilliant for us fans and journalists.

Giving Fourmaux time to stew and think over his actions would have allowed the penny to drop. And if it didn’t, then it would’ve become abundantly clear to M-Sport that Fourmaux isn’t a driver it can take forward.

But equally, what Fourmaux perhaps also needs is a change of co-driver. I absolutely do not want to dig out Alexandre Coria as he’s is a world-class and accomplished co-driver – he wouldn’t be in the WRC if he wasn’t.


However, it’s quite noticeable that Fourmaux’s form has dipped since parting ways with Renaud Jamoul. That could well be a coincidence but it’s true that Coria has even less top-class WRC experience than Fourmaux does. Maybe what Fourmaux needs, at least for an interim period, is somebody that’s been around the block a few times more.

He only has to glance over the M-Sport tent for an example of the impact that can have. Elliott Edmondson is also a world-class co-driver who’s now sitting with Oliver Solberg, but since Gus Greensmith split with him, brought in Chris Patterson and later Jonas Andersson, he looks a far more complete, relaxed and dependable driver.

Either way, the bottom line is someone, or something, needs to rein Fourmaux in a bit if he’s to realize his ultimate potential in the WRC. Perhaps his incredibly rapid rise to this position has created this sense of impatience, but it’s clear Fourmaux has just checked into the last chance saloon.

Luke Barry

He must stop worrying about others


Adrien Fourmaux. Is he Cougar? Or is he Maverick? Is he holding on too tight? Has he lost his edge?

Or is it that he simply feels the need for speed.

Either way, Malcolm Wilson or Richard Millener is very much playing the role of Stinger, the commanding officer.

And, right now, they’ll be wasting little time in reminding the Frenchman that his ego is indeed writing cheques his body can’t cash (once they’ve explained that cheques are a sort of ’80s longhand version of Apple Pay).

There’s no question that Fourmaux’s walking a very fine line right now. And that’s fact, not a line from Top Gun.

He crashed when crashing was the very last thing he needed to do in Croatia last week. I sympathize with the fact that he wasn’t told about Thierry Neuville’s monster moment at precisely the same corner of the third stage – it’s worth noting that the Belgian went into the stage 24 minutes ahead of Fourmaux, so it’s worth asking why he wasn’t watching All Live himself?

Regardless, the point of this piece is to ask what the future holds for Fourmaux. Does he have what it takes?

He’s got speed, we know that. But speed’s redundant without consistency.

Fourmaux, for me, was something of a slow burner. I wasn’t convinced. Then I was. A run up the hill at Goodwood last season convinced me of two things: he wants it and he’s capable of it.


But right now, he needs to wind everything back. He is holding on too tight. He’s trying too hard. He wanted Monte so badly. In the aftermath, he talked openly about it being ‘his event.’ It was his moment to shine. But it wasn’t. It was his moment to drive with his head and gather more experience. Failing to do that brought more pressure.

And crashing last week has brought yet more pressure. Now, we’ll see how good he is under the full weight of pressure and expectation.

There’s no doubting Fourmaux’s a bright lad: he’s stepped out of medical school to step into a factory drive in the world championship. Now he needs to use his head and repay the faith Wilson and Millener have shown in him.


He needs to not worry about whether Gus Greensmith is his wingman. Or vice versa. There are a handful of rallies ahead of him that will shape the rest of his life.

Adrien Fourmaux: do you think your name will be on that plaque? Remember boys, there’s no points for second place.

(Technically, that last bit’s not exactly right, but it was that or something about bogies or great balls of fire.)

And for anybody who’s never seen Top Gun, apologies for the confusion.

David Evans

Fourmaux’s always been under high pressure


Being at M-Sport is a strange double-edged sword for Adrien Fourmaux. No team has a track record of unearthing young talent and giving them a shot at the top level like Malcolm Wilson’s lot – without them, would he even be in a Rally1 car today? Perhaps not.

But in some ways, it’s also the worst place for a youngster to be right now.

Take a look at Oliver Solberg’s 2021 season – it was filled with unforced errors that led to rally-ending accidents. On Monte, he went off into a ditch and was left stranded there. A 19G crash broke the chassis of his 2C-run Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in Kenya, he crashed again on the Acropolis Rally and wrecked his i20 N Rally2 so badly in Finland that it took RedGrey four months to rebuild it.

His punishment for four rally-ending crashes that year? Being promoted to the factory WRC lineup the next year.


Hyundai has the luxury of leaning on a world champion and the most successful driver by rally wins that hasn’t scooped the title leading its team, so Solberg hitting stuff now so he learns his lesson and gets better down the line is a short-term cost it can afford.

But the words from Richard Millener were telling – “he’s one of the leading drivers in the team.” And that’s the thing: Fourmaux’s not the number three. He’s not Kalle Rovanperä at Toyota in 2020, or Solberg at Hyundai this year. He’s expected to rack up points for the manufacturers’ championship to a point that M-Sport can compete with Toyota and Hyundai.

Keeping him on for Portugal, not only in a Puma but as one of the points-scorers in the team is a brave call. It is, in effect, business as usual, which makes it all the more surprising. Malcolm clearly hasn’t given up faith just yet.

If Fourmaux had been dropped to the subs bench, he shouldn't have been too surprised Rob Hansford

But this, surely, is the last of the last chances for Fourmaux. If he throws it off the road again next month, what paper-thin patience remains from the M-Sport boss will surely disappear.

Alasdair Lindsay

It’s all about psychology


If Fourmaux had been dropped to the subs bench, he shouldn’t have been too surprised. Put aside the hefty damage bill he’s racked up over the last few rallies, he’s also losing valuable points for M-Sport.

In this new era of rallying, it’s even more vital that M-Sport has a driver pulling their weight, as it battles for second in the championship.

Craig Breen is consistently proving that the car is good enough for the top three in the right conditions, Gus Greensmith has one stage victory this year, and Sébastien Loeb, well he won Monte in a Puma.

So to be three rallies in, with no points and some big crashes racked up against his tally, it’s easy to see why M-Sport had called Fourmaux’s performances into question.


If he’s clever, he will use this situation to his advantage. He will use this scare to take a step back, reset and refocus, so that come Portugal he will make an impact for all the right reasons.

There’s no denying Fourmaux has talent. He proved that last year on a number of occasions. He’s quick, he has potential and he should be right there with Breen on pace.

But so often psychology can have a major effect on a driver’s performance, and that’s what is happening to Fourmaux right now.

Time away to clear the head and remove the pressure would have been the perfect remedy for him to rediscover his mojo, and there’s every possibility he could have been all the better in the long run for it.

Rob Hansford

Words:David Evans, Luke Barry, Alasdair Lindsay & Rob Hansford