PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares has rubbished suggestions that reducing Citroen’s budget will affect its chances of winning World Rally Championship titles.Sources close to the French team suggest budgets were slashed last year and Tavares insists he wants to see the money available being put to better use.
Tavares, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the automotive industry, is applying similar economic principles to those that brought Citroen back from the brink in 2014 to the firm’s WRC assault.
“Last year we were last. We were beaten in 2017,” he said, assessing Citroen’s fully-fledged return to the WRC last year.
“We were number four from four teams; we failed.
“But our budget was significantly above the team that won the title – M-Sport. That means money doesn’t make the result, as long as the budget is above a certain threshold.
“Our way is not to buy the best drivers and put the biggest budget in place. It’s not a case of: here’s the pot of money, now go and win – this is not our way of making sport.
“We are not a money-driven company. I believe money is not the number one driver of sport, the number one driver is the expertise, persistence and the capability to restart when you have a bump on the road and you fall.
“If you give a team the biggest pot of money and the biggest drivers, everything is high, high, high, but what’s the merit?
“The merit is in the fact you create a team of people who have strengths and weaknesses and you assemble those strengths and weaknesses of a group of people for them to feel excited as a team to demonstrate to all the other guys that they are better.
“That’s where the excitement is. If you give them more money, more people more drivers and more engineers, it’s not a team that’s winning, it’s a banker and this is not my philosophy of sport.”
Tavares gave new team principal Pierre Budar his full backing, and said Citroen would continue its WRC programme for a planned cycle of ‘between three and five years’.
“We are sportsmen and sportswomen, so when we have a bump on the road we raise our head again and we fight back,” he added.
“That’s the spirit of Citroen Racing. It’s normal that, at one point in time, we might fail.
“Peugeot Sport, on the first year comeback in Dakar, failed, but for the next three years we won.
“I understand the fact my teams can fail one year as long as they behave like top sportsmen and sportswomen, look at what happen and, in an honest and clear way, try understand why it didn’t work and then try to fix it.”