Sébastien Ogier could have been forgiven for feeling a little uncomfortable at the news of his former Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala becoming the newly crowned seven-time World Rally Champion’s new team boss for 2021.
Latvala, a winner of 18 rallies and two years younger than Ogier at 35, was unveiled as the successor to outgoing team principal Tommi Mäkinen earlier on Friday.
So how does Ogier feel about spending his final WRC season taking orders from the man he went head to head with at VW across 2013-16?
“There is nobody who is more passionate about the WRC and knows more about the history of the sport than Jari-Matti,” said Ogier during a virtual FIA Prize Giving press conference.
“I am sure he will put all of his energy into this new job.”
Latvala’s appointment turned a few heads in the WRC, and Ogier acknowledged the surprise element.
“I think a lot of people were surprised about this news of course, but I think it will be interesting to see how things go next year,” Ogier said.
“We’ve always had good relations, so I am looking forward to it next season.”
Interesting it will certainly be, particularly given how well Ogier stacked up against Latvala during their VW days.
The Frenchman consistently had the upper hand over Latvala over the four years the brand competed in the WRC, with Ogier picking up four consecutive titles while Latvala struggled to match the pace.
Perhaps this is why the relations between the two as far as Ogier is concerned were positive but how well the two will get on as boss and driver in what will be Ogier’s final year in the WRC remains one of 2021’s most pressing questions.
Latvala recorded 12 of his 18 WRC wins with VW but Ogier scored 31 (and those four titles) over that period. Ogier’s total points score in the VW years was a mammoth 1088. Latvala’s? 675.
By VW’s final season in 2016, Latvala had slumped to sixth in the drivers’ standings as Ogier took yet another crown.
They always got on well on a personal level, but there was no doubt Ogier was in charge on the stages – to the huge detriment of Latvala’s self-confidence.