Why has Tänak bet on Hyundai again?

David Evans offers his thoughts on Ott Tänak's decision to join Hyundai for a second time


Albert Einstein, was he right all of the time? His work was solid enough on the thinking of relativity. But the insanity thing?

Not so sure. And Ott Tänak’s very much hoping to prove him wrong. Again.

Einstein did, of course, offer a definition of insanity as doing the same thing multiple times and expecting a different result. Things like not winning a world championship with a team once, then going back and having another go.

The Estonian’s return to Hyundai will be the second time he’s done something again. Depending on whether you consider his 2012 dismissal from M-Sport as real or not (personally, I think it was – Malcolm Wilson took a good bit of persuading to have him back in 2015), this was Tänak’s third stint at M-Sport.

And next year will be his second with Hyundai.

Was it realistic to expect a title at M-Sport this year? Yes, 100% yes. Ott believed so, MW believed so, Richard Millener did and so, if we’re honest, did you and I. Especially after that win and the championship lead in Sweden.

It’s enormously sad that Tänak hasn’t lifted the crown with the Cumbrian team.

But it hasn’t worked. The time had come to make a move.

Toyota said no fairly early, but this move to Hyundai still came as a surprise.

Would Tänak have sat a season out? Possibly. There’s his RedGrey preparation business to run back home in Estonia and he’s a very committed family man.

But there’s still the desire to win one more title.

So, time to build some bridges and possibly even eat a little humble pie at Hyundai.

When Tänak left Alzenau at the end of last year, he did so with a year left on his contract. He was allowed out because he’d requested a line in his contract offering him an exit option should Andrea Adamo no longer be team principal.

Adamo and Tänak (and Neuville, who had the said line added to his deal) were that close and when the charismatic Italian stepped down to deal with a medical condition, the team started to slide.

The i20 N Rally1 was late and, let’s be honest, fairly hopeless at the top of ’22. Mid-season, it was clear Tänak would be away. Already fairly vocal in his thoughts on the car and the team, he’d take it up a notch or two in the coming weeks and months.

A lot was said before and after his departure and it’s possibly fair to say there are some hearts and minds to be won over from both sides when he walks back through the door.

A new team principal, team manager and technical director means the senior management is completely changed from when Tänak was last in town – that means a lot. It’s a clean slate from that side of things.

But what about any surviving disgruntled souls? Tänak will win them around. Yes, he can be a truculent character, but he’s undoubtedly a world-class driver who will deliver wins and a smile once those Hyundai overalls start smelling of champagne again.