At a glance: Tanak jumps ship, but what does it mean for the WRC driver market?


It didn’t take a genius to know that Ott Tanak was not so happy at Hyundai.

Despite a few wins this year, Hyundai never looked like being Championship contenders and though spats with teammate, Thierry Neuville and in a team that lacks a leader, Tanak was never on his M-Sport or Toyota pace or personality.

Therefore it is no great surprise to read this, just the timing of it is a little odd.

“I would like to announce that I have decided to end our contractual agreement with Hyundai Motorsport and leave the team at the end of the current WRC season. This is a personal decision and one that I have taken with careful consideration and respect for the team. However, I feel that I am at a stage of my career where I need to embark on a new challenge. We have had a good partnership over the past three seasons, and I am proud of what we have achieved.See you soon in Japan,”

What does it mean for the driver combinations for next year?
It immediately means that Hyundai have two seats to fill, and need a superstar to go next to Neuville. But who is available? Particularly given they do not want a rookie in the car. Kris Meeke has been linked to the driver, and of course Andreas Mikklesen has his name in lights after a double Championship in the ERC and WRC2.

On the sidelines we also see Hayden Paddon and Teemu Sunninen, but do either of those carry the star power for 2023 that Hyundai need? Afterall, one was (in our opinion) unfairly let go by Hyundai, and the never really showed true potential to really make it at the front in his time at M-Sport. Mind you, both are exceptional drivers, but do they fit what Hyundai want?

Who else could fit the mold, want to do a full season and is available? It is a tough call.

For Tanak, the choice is equally difficult. Toyota has a full team and M-Sport just doesn’t have the financial resources to continually invest like Toyota does. Though we all know that he and Wilson get on well. In addition, Breen could do with some help at the front of the team.

Whatever the case, it is an interesting move and we will watch this space into the future!

Sam Tickell