M-Sport Ford considers of investing in young drivers after Tanak's departure

The team principal of M-Sport Ford, Richard Millener, says that is is very disappointing for the team to lose Ott Tanak at the end of this season after his recent win in Chile last week and admits that they are thinking of signing some young drivers for 2024.

Ott Tanak and Hyundai Motorsport announced today that they have reached a new agreement for next season which means that the Estonian will leave M-Sport Ford at the end of 2022. So far, only Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak are under contract, but it is tipped that Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanpera and Takamoto Katsuta will continue with Toyota while Teemu Suninen's manager has said two months ago that his driver has already signed a part-time contract with Hyundai which includes his participation in seven rallies next year. As M-Sport Ford has lower budget than its rivals and is a semi-manufacturer team, Adrien Fourmaux and Gregoire Munster are some possible options for them, as both of them are currently competing with the Ford Fiesta MKII in WRC2 class, together with Pierre-Louis Loubet who secured his first full-season programme with them in World Rally Championship. Other options can be Sami Pajari, Andreas Mikkelsen, Oliver Solberg and Gus Greensmith who was part of the team for eight years.

"Obviously, it is very disappointing to lose Ott", Millener said. 

"It is such a shame especially after the weekend to show that the car and the team still have pace and are able to win.

"But unfortunately the mid-part of the season was unfortunate for us and I think not having the ability to fight for the championship is number one priority for Ott, and I think he feels with the new management at Hyundai there is an opportunity to do that and we have to respect his ideas and his decisions. 

"As much as it is sad to see him go after only 12 months, it has been fantastic to work with him. 

"We wish him all the best. 

"I think he made his decision based on a number of things and obviously it would have taken a lot of time to make sure it is the right decision. 

"But unfortunately, we were not able to make an alternative offer that was able to keep him with us.

"Next year is now obviously a bit more tricky as there isn’t any, as far as we can see, a top three or four driver that can win the championship available to drive with us.

"As we have hinted at our goal is towards focussing more on a young driver line-up to try and promote the next set of characters and youngsters. 

"Sensible drives from youngsters can result in podiums so sometimes every few years we go for a top attempt at the championship, and the next few years after that if we can’t afford to stay at the level and we have to reconsider and go again with the other strategy. 

"But the young driver strategy has worked in the past for M-Sport and has been beneficial for years to come after they have been driving for us, so it is something we are not going to ignore and probably the direction we will head in".

Source: Motorsport.com

Photo Credits: M-Sport

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