Sebastien Ogier will go to Ford as team leader next season if he decides to leave Citroen, according to six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb. The Frenchman believes Ogier would be well advised to leave Citroen and head for Ford, where he would drive with number one status.
Loeb told French publication L'Equipe, Loeb, "I understand that he might be keen to stay at Citroen, it's thanks to Citroen he is where he is, but on the other hand if both he and I dominate the championship, Ford could pull out – and that means Citroen might go as well, and then Ogier has lost everything.
"So his decision could be important for the future. Malcolm [Wilson, Ford team principal] has done all he can to get him [Ogier]. He has given him a good offer and over there he would certainly be number one."
Wilson refused to be drawn on what his precise plans would be for a team including Ogier, beyond confirming the Rally of Portugal winner would line up alongside current drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala in the factory Ford squad. Latvala said he would welcome Ogier and the possible input he would bring from the Citroen team.
"First of all, I'm not worried because I have a contract with Ford," Latvala said. "I feel comfortable. He's a great driver and he has been developing so quickly. If he would be in our team, he could be a strength in a way – but it is more competition. In some ways it's good and in some ways not so good.
"He could push the drivers in the team to go faster if there comes another driver who can go really quick. Our knowledge on the asphalt is not so good and he might not have competed on many rallies, but he has done a lot of testing with Citroen and he knows how they do things there with the setup, we could learn something from there."
Hirvonen wasn't quite so expansive when asked what he thought of his potential new teammate. "I don't care," he said.
Asked to reply to Loeb's comments and his thoughts on his team members for next season, Citroen Racing team principal Olivier Quesnel said: "The feeling is that I am the boss of Citroen Racing, so I decide. And next year we will do our best for those two objectives of the drivers' and manufacturers' championships. Anyway, I am confident we will keep [Sebastien] Ogier for next year."