As the beginning of the new calendar season approaches deadline day, M-sport fans are at loggerheads over whether the team’s relative recruitment inactivity is a mistake, lack of money, or nothing to worry about, In this article, we’ve shared the excellent drivers finance expert breakdown of M-sports’ s current economic situation brilliantly explained by Mazzucchelli_L for MotoBox
Timo Jouhki, the manager of Teemu Suninen, revealed that the continuity of the Teemu Suninen in M-Sport is still under negotiation, due to the need for the team to add paid competitors after a critical year at a financial level. Even so, the 26-year-old driver assured that he will try to continue in the British formation and is already evaluating two options. One of them is to race in WRC 2, or to alternate this category with selected rallies on a Fiesta WRC. Meanwhile, endorsements from Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux rank them favorites to complete the team’s main roster in 2021.
Having been joined by M-Sport in 2017, Teemu Suninen appears to have run out of options to receive a new permanent contract to compete with the team in the senior category of the World Rally Championship. After a year in which the British formation was forced to face layoffs and serious budget cuts in the WRC program, the Finnish manager considers that the context does not allow for optimism when considering the opportunities for the 26-year-old driver Follow the wheel of a World Rally Car with a full time role.
“The situation at M-Sport is not the best in the world and Teemu’s future is still being negotiated. I still cannot assure anything or say when the line-up will be confirmed, because the team still does not know exactly when it will take place , ”Jouhki told Rallit.fi. “After all, it would not be strange if the decision is not made until January. Last minute determinations have often been made. It may not have happened very recently, but it did happen a few years ago.
When asked about his current short-term future prospects, Teemu Suninen replied: “An attempt has been made to find out which car I can drive next year. There is really nothing more to say now. Of course, being an official WRC driver is the goal. For that, it would be important for him to remain in the team and achieve good results. Then a year later, we will see where the world of rallying will be to see if there are any new opportunities.
Under the premise of continuing in M-Sport, Suninen admitted to the same media that next week there could be news, since he is willing to negotiate a program in WRC 2, or one that is alternated between the second category and the higher class of the World Rally Championship. In the words of the Finn, the descent to the aforementioned division would not necessarily mean a step backwards in his career, since the next hybrid Rally1 of 2022 will have a performance slightly better than a Rally2, product of a suspension, transmission and differential system that will be more simplified.
Of course, keep running is essential if you still have a sports career to build. One option is to participate in WRC2 next year. The 2022 cars will be closer to Rally2 and competing in that category would not be a bad option in that regard. At the end of the day, it looks more like a better preparation for the following year than a setback, ”Suninen explained.
Regarding the possibility of alternating rallies with a Fiesta WRC and a Fiesta Rally2 in 2021, Suninen said: “Surely that would also be possible. We will see what happens. The priority is the WRC, but racing in WRC 2 is also an opportunity. I believe that all agreements will be finalized at the last minute. If there is any confirmation, we will start testing next week at the latest. It will definitely be resolved and I don’t see that this year will be an exception in that regard.
At this point, it should be remembered that 2020 has not been an easy year for M-Sport, a team whose financial coffers are nourished by the income from the customer racing department, services and spare parts, mainly from rally vehicles. However, with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic and the extensive quarantines, the sport’s activity has been halted for several months. With this hiatus, there was also a drastic drop in income from the sale and rebuilding of cars, forcing the British team to cut its expenses.
To do this, not only had to face layoffs of staff, but also a sharp reduction in investment within the WRC program. In this way, the team barely faced a handful of days of testing, without its Finnish drivers and in British areas that were not representative for rallies in Estonia, Turkey, Sardinia or Monza. In addition, M-Sport was also forced to allocate its current resources to the development of the 2022 Fiesta Rally1 hybrid, as the WRC version still had a significant stock of engines and front aerodynamic parts to take advantage of, since they had not been used.
That’s how the decision was reached to delay the upgrade of the engine, with its new cylinder head, for the 2021 season, before the impeller development freeze goes into effect for the next five years. In addition, the subtle front aerodynamic improvements also had their premiere postponed until the Monza Rally, where they were only used on Suninen’s car. As if all this were not enough, the team will have to begin to deal with a new context from January, after the exit of Great Britain from the European Union is fully effective.
Regarding this context, Timo Jouhki commented: “It is obvious that the situation in the world has affected them a lot. It’s certainly a shame for the guys at M-Sport. The coronavirus did not let them face the season easily and now Brexit will be above all. Ultimately, it’s a pretty unpleasant situation. ‘
Against this background, it is almost a fact that M-Sport’s line-up will be mainly geared towards paid drivers in 2021. For that reason, the Suninen representative believes that his driver’s chances to continue in the team’s main line-up they are very rare. “We have had sponsors with whom we have dealt with these things. But on the other hand, the reality is that Teemu should be paid to drive. ” If we talk about the sums Malcolm (N.de.R: Wilson, Managing Director of M-Sport) is asking for, then we are quite far from that. The point is, they need a driver. That is also a fact that Suninen is still trying to figure out. But the question is how to find that budget for the team or if there is a driver who can really pay for everything. In that case, Teemu would have to stay and watch other drivers compete, ” Timo Jouhki admitted. In looking at the potential paid drivers who would race M-Sport in 2021, DirtFish exemplified that Andreas Mikkelsen could be one of the options. However, the Norwegian admitted in Scratch Magazine that the requirement to contribute money for a seat in the team is a stumbling block that complicates any type of negotiation.
Normally, you have to come with a good financial backing behind. I don’t know if we will be able to do it, but I will see if it is possible. The truth is that anyone can join that team if they have enough money. I’m trying to organize everything in the WRC, but perhaps it is more realistic to plan something for 2022, ” explained Mikkelsen, who will play the 2021 WRC 2 season with Toksport.
Outside of this option, the aforementioned media, as well as Rallit.fi and Rallye Sport agree that the main M-Sport line-up for the next season will be composed of Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux, given their respective sponsorships. It should be remembered that the British is usually supported by his family’s oil company, Crown Oil, while the French has been endorsed in recent years by Michelin, the French lubricant firm Yacco and the French Motor Sport Federation (FFSA).
While Greensmith would develop his second WRC season with the team, Fourmaux would go on to make his debut in the senior category of the World Rally Championship, after a solid upward trajectory. The Frenchman had been the winner of the Rallye Jeunes de France program in 2016 and two years later he was Junior champion in his country with a Ford Fiesta R2. Then he debuted in the old WRC 2 in a Fiesta R5 during 2019.
Finally, Fourmaux contested this year the modern version of WRC 2 with M-Sport and obtained two podiums in Estonia and Turkey, in addition to a victory for the FIA ERC in the Canary Islands with a Fiesta Rally2 and another additional victory in the Rally Legends of San Marino, where he made his absolute debut at the wheel of a Fiesta WRC.
After this solid season, Rallye Sport asked the French if this progression could mean access to a program in the top class of the World Rally Championship. However, Fourmaux replied: “I think it would be very positive to continue with M-Sport, although nothing has been signed yet. The situation is complicated right now with this pandemic and its economic impacts, so we have to be patient and cautious. I still have good conversations with Yacco and his will is also to continue with me ”.“If I don’t have a car for Monte Carlo, I’ll make sure to be there anyway, even without support. In the next few days, I will return to M-Sport for the last time in the year to talk about the next one, and probably to drive a bit and keep up, ”Fourmaux added. “For now, it is impossible to know if we will be able to drive a World Rally Car, but if we have the opportunity to do so, we will have to see under what conditions it will be, since in any case, the objective should be to know the car and the stages, but not to ask us to achieve immediate results.