Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen has talked of his relief at seeing Ford commit to the World Rally Championship until the end of 2013.
Hirvonen departed Ford at the end of last season, partly due to the lack of resolution between Ford and M- Sport, the team which builds the Fiesta RS WRC. But the Finn, who has driven for the Ford factory team for seven years - tackling 104 of his 124 world championship rounds in an M-Sport-built car, admitted he will always have a soft spot for the British team.
In his driver's column for AUTOSPORT, the Finn said: "It was a relief to see Ford committing, such a relief for Malcolm and for the team. There are a lot of employees there who rely on this - and those people are all friends of mine, people who have been and still are special to me. It was good for the decision just before Christmas, as well."
Hirvonen added that the WRC without Ford would have been a strange place.
He said: "The whole rallying world needs Ford to be part of the championship. It would have been quite lonely without Ford, but now I have to focus on the fight with Ford. This will be strange fighting with the team I have known for so long, but I'm sure there will be some laughs about this through the year."