WRC

19 questions for 2019: Sebastien Ogier back at Citroen, wise or not?

Motorsport Week's team of writers got together to discuss what they believe will be the big questions for the 2019 motorsport season, covering all the major series from Formula 1 to IndyCar, WEC to DTM and everything in-between. We'll be posting one each day and today we ask...

4/19: Ogier back at Citroen, wise decision or not?

Sebastien Ogier has made the somewhat brave decision to leave the team he’s won the championship with for the past two seasons for the team that finished last in the manufacturer’ standings.

Ogier departs 2017 champions M-Sport for Citroen – the team he began his WRC career with back in 2008. The news wasn’t hugely surprising as it had been speculated for several months, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be one of the major talking points in 2019.

Citroen’s C3 only took one event victory last year and that was with nine-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb behind the wheel. Can Ogier make the difference? Probably. The Frenchman is amongst those ‘special’ champions that dominate an era, think Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1, Marc Marquez in MotoGP… they do make the difference and Ogier is fully capable of dragging those extra tenths out of the C3 that count.

Just look at Ogier’s points tally last year compared to M-Sport team-mate Elfyn Evans, 219 points to 80 is somewhat of a whitewash.

There’s also M-Sport’s future to take into account. Although Ford has lent the team some manufacturer support, it still remains a privateer compared to its three big rivals which have budgets that far outweigh the British squad. M-Sport pondered whether it could afford to race in 2019 and although it has committed two cars, the third car has only been confirmed for two rounds.

Did Ogier start to lose belief in Malcolm Wilson and and newly appointed team boss Richard Millener? It’s only a matter of time until their success comes to an end, and with a growing challenge from the likes of Hyundai and Toyota, which both outscored M-Sport in 2018, Ogier might just have switched at the perfect moment…but has he chosen wisely with Citroen? He said he and the French team had unfinished business after failing to secure a title together, but will 2019 be their year? If I had to put money on it, I’d say not.