Citroen team principal Pierre Budar has defended the manufacturer’s record in this year’s World Rally Championship following the announcement that it will walk away from the series.
CEO Linda Jackson said in the statement confirming Citroen’s exit that Sebastien Ogier’s decision to leave the squad was the reason for its WRC withdrawal.
Asked by Autosport why he thought Ogier had decided to quit the team after just one year, Budar said: “For that you have to refer to Sebastien.
“He will be in more of a position to explain why. Please refer to him. Ask him straight. I don’t want to make a comment about this.”
Budar added that Citroen had done all it could to try to convince the six-time world champion to stay.
“We have made our best to convince him to stay and at the end of the day he made his decision,” he said.
“You have to see why he has made this decision.”
While Ogier has won three rallies in the C3 WRC this year – including a 1-2 result with team-mate Esapekka Lappi at Rally Turkey in September – he could not claim a seventh straight world championship title.
Budar admitted Citroen was caught short on development at the start of the season and failed to make that time up, but insisted it had made progress.
“We have faced the situation where we had lost a lot of development at the beginning of the year,” he said. “We have been rushed.
“It was difficult to recover the time we had [lost] at the beginning of the year because we had new drivers, new engineers and they had to understand the car.
“They had to learn how to work together and make the priority in the development.
“All of this needed time at the start of the season and of course this time give us some late advancement compared to the other teams and, of course, we have not been able to recover this.
“And I am quite sure we have made a lot of progress during the year and we had a lot of ongoing development that would have been ready for Monte Carlo, but this is the problem – of course from Sebastien’s point of view it would have been better to have it before and we can agree with this, but it cannot be possible.
“You cannot contract the time when you need to do some new development, some new tooling or new moulds, you cannot get the time back – especially with the homologation system which is strict.
“The homologation system you cannot make a mistake, it’s not possible to make a bet [to gamble on homologation parts].”