Way ahead of the start of the season, M-Sport already regarded the 2021 World Rally Championship as a transitional year. Their sights were firmly set further ahead, on the new era of the speciality which is to arrive in 2022.
As a matter of fact, all of the team’s efforts have been focused for quite some time on next season’s Rally 1 hybrid car project. So much so that the privately-owned team M-Sport is well ahead of its two large manufacturer rivals in the development of the new vehicle, despite its considerably inferior financial muscle.
The British squad did not even close down its plant in Cumbria (United Kingdom) during the March lockdown, the first of many others that would be triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. A small number of employees continued their very special task.
The bulk of their work consisted of creating the hybrid Rally 1, as revealed by company owner, Malcolm Wilson. Thanks to their foresight, M-Sport is now ready to carry out its first trials with the new machine, which are due to take place as early as the end of February or the beginning of March.
A decision triggered by financial strain
Contradictory as it may seem, the brilliant decision to concentrate all efforts on next year’s car came from the strain caused by M-Sport’s financial difficulties. Unable to simultaneously develop the hybrid vehicle and the current Fiesta for the 2021 WRC, they had to choose between one or the other.
In the end, they decided to put all of their eggs in the 2022 basket, sacrificing the current World Championship. They needed to optimize their scarce resources in the most cost-effective and efficient way.
The team’s director himself, Richard Millener, has publicly conceded that they have funnelled all of their income in the 2022 project.
Ford backs the hybrid project from Cumbria
It is in this context that the English team has received one of the greatest news they could hope for, as announced by Millener himself. Ford has committed a significant amount of money to finance the M-Sport’s first hybrid season in the World Rally Championship.
This will allow the company to remain comfortably afloat in the short/medium term. Also, it was recently made public that the English team has undertaken a major restructuring of staff and resources in order to meet the demands of this new chapter.
Ford Fiesta or Puma?
The financial and sporting future of M-Sport is now a lot more certain but some of the details remain unknown. For instance, we still don’t know which will be the vehicle model that will serve as the base for the 2022 car.
Most rumours point to the Ford Fiesta & the Puma ST as the two favourites to measure themselves on the track against the other hybrid rivals, but the truth is that this is still a complete mystery.
Images of M-Sport Ford: M-Sport.