Finnish press is buzzing today with the unconfirmed and of course unofficial news of Jari-Matti Latvala’s move to Volkswagen by the end of this year, sourced from Autosport. After seeing what move to Citroën brought to Mikko Hirvonen, I can only say, good one Mr. Latvala!
Of course, I can only speak from my admittedly limited perspective, but it is very obvious that move to Citroën did wonders for Mikko Hirvonen. He appears super relaxed and very confident, almost as if he did not move to new team and new car. And as the unwritten rule in rallying goes, when you’re confident and relaxed, you are fast out on stages. Yes, Hirvonen is said to be under no pressure to perform, with Sebastien Loeb being number 1 driver in Citroën, but only fools believe in these stories of top teams hiring drivers and expecting them to not perform.
Latvala’s alleged move to Volkswagen raises few questions though. German company so far insisted of bringing a young driver to the team, alongside experienced Sebastien Ogier. Indeed, Latvala is not old, but compared to some of the youngsters he is a few years senior. I suppose this criteria can easily be removed or altered, and is not really something that should be taken very seriously, especially if team can pick between two experienced drivers vs. one junior in need of tutoring.
Jari-Matti is undoubtedly one of the fastest guys out there, and when he is in the mood his stage times are stunning. On the other hand, recent string of costly mistakes earned him no praise and I wouldn’t be surprised if questions were being asked in the high towers of Ford company about the young Finn’s place in the team.
For now, we don’t have many solid sources to rely on. Apparently, Latvala is talking to both Ford and Volkswagen, according to his manager Timo Jouhki statement published by Ilta Sanomat. But the fact that he is still regarded as good buy by big teams might help him regain some of the lost confidence.
And personally, I would be happy to move from Ford if it was me! There is just too much blue and green and then more blue – no emotion, no passion from colours, nothing. Yes, Subaru had blue, but that was a whole different blue, not to mention a touch of yellow and gold. It takes Petter Solberg with his inner infernal passion for rallying to enjoy emotions at Ford! #addsomewarmth #please :)