World Rally Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen has admitted he feels sympathy for Ford team director Malcolm Wilson following his teammate Jari-Matti Latvala's recent errors.
Latvala has been retained in the factory lineup for the Rally Finland despite crashing out of a certain second place behind Hirvonen on the rally-ending superspecial in Poland last weekend. The accident came shortly after Latvala's enormous crash in Portugal and the spin that nearly ruined Ford's tactics in Greece, forcing Wilson to admit that he was running out of ideas for how to deal with the fast but erratic young Finn.
Hirvonen said he shared Wilson's frustration, and that he desperately needed Latvala to finish rallies to help him fend off Sebastien Loeb in the title battle.
"If I was Malcolm, I really have no idea what I would do," Hirvonen said. "It's tough on everybody and tough for Jari-Matti. It's going to be hard for him to pick himself up after this, but he has to. I have enough to focus on my fight with Sebastien.
"If we want to beat Citroen in the manufacturers' championship then we're not going to be able to do it with just my points – we need help from Jari-Matti and we'll see if he's able to do that in the next couple of months."
Latvala's crash left Hirvonen one rather than two points ahead of Loeb in the drivers' championship, and Ford 17 rather than eight points behind Citroen in the manufacturers', and Hirvonen added that it was now essential to make up for the frustrations of Poland when the championship resumes in Finland at the end of July.
"Finland is going to be a big event for us," said Hirvonen, "not just for me, but for the whole team."