Ford team director Malcolm Wilson says he is confident that Mikko Hirvonen will find more speed in time for next year's World Rally Championship.
Hirvonen missed out on this year's title by just one point, the Finn taking six-time champion Sebastien Loeb closer than anybody has managed previously. Wilson says he is confident that there is more to come from his lead driver in 2010.
Wilson said: "Look at the way Mikko has developed through his early career and this year. If he carries on where he left off – and I'm confident he will – then he's going to keep getting quicker. And I know he'll be even more determined for next season."
Wilson pointed out that Hirvonen is six years younger than Loeb and, by the time the Finn reaches the Frenchman's age, he's confident he will have tasted season-long success. "Mikko will have a few world titles under his belt by the time he's Seb's age," added Wilson.
Despite the onset of Hirvonen and Loeb's teammates, Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo for Ford and Citroen, respectively, Wilson is confident next year's World Rally Championship battle will be a rerun of this season.
"Look at those two on Rally GB, they were in a different class," he said. "And I can't really see that changing next season. I'm sure Jari-Matti will win rallies, but I think it's a little bit early for him to be putting together a championship."