Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted that he squandered chances to deliver a World Rally title for Ford during his five years as a works driver for the squad.
The Finn replaced two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm at Ford in 2008 and won in Sweden in only his second start for the team. But Latvala never managed to turn that speed into a championship challenge. Even when he scored his career-best runner-up spot in the standings in 2010, Latvala was 105 points behind runaway champion Sebastien Loeb. Ford also failed to win any manufacturers' crowns during Latvala's sojourn.
Although Loeb has dominated the sport for most of the last decade, Latvala believes Ford could have denied Citroen some titles had he made fewer mistakes. Latvala will move to Volkswagen next season, while Ford is withdrawing its factory backing from the M-Sport team and Loeb will switch to a part-time program prior to a World Touring Car move.
"In a way I am disappointed in these years that I couldn't deliver the manufacturers' or drivers' championship," Latvala said. "The car was very competitive, but we didn't have the consistency. I would push too hard and then go off the road. I should have learned, but it looks like I am a slow learner - I hope this will come..."
Latvala confessed that he had still not managed to bring sufficient discipline into his driving.
"If I lose time, then I push harder and try to catch back the time and then I go off the road, instead of admitting and accepting the situation," he said. "When I don't have the feeling to drive at the speed, I need to realize this."
He believes his hopes of being in the post-Loeb title fight in 2013 depend on how competitive VW's new WRC Polo is from the outset. Latvala will team up with Sebastien Ogier at the German squad.
"Personally I have wanted to beat Loeb, but it didn't work out," said Latvala. "But with guys doing the full championship like Ogier and Mikko [Hirvonen], and probably Ford drivers, [the WRC] can be strong, so I hope to be there fighting for the championship.
"But I don't know about the car. We need to see how the car is and give some time for the car, but the team will be big and this will be a big challenge."