Citroen clarifies Loeb`s F1 comments

Citroen clarifies Loeb`s F1 comments

World Rally Championship remains the priority
Amid rumours that Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Bourdais might lose his Formula One seat in the near future, five-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb indicated his interest in taking over the position with a part-time agreement.

In addition to its eponymous F1 team, the Toro Rosso outfit is also owned by Red Bull, which sponsors Loeb`s Citroen team in the World Rally Championship. Last November Loeb spent a day driving for Red Bull during a winter test session.

To French newspaper L`Equipe, Loeb said on Saturday: "Who knows, as long as the Formula One and rallying calendars don`t overlap, anything is possible. If there is a place at Toro Rosso I`m available."

On Sunday Citroen Racing reacted to the amount of media speculation Loeb`s comments generated by issuing the following statement.

Citroen Racing statement:

"In response to recent rumours and speculation in the media, Citroen Racing and Sebastien Loeb would like to clarify the situation.

Sebastien Loeb, who is the most successful rally driver ever, with 52 world class wins and five world titles to his name, and Citroen have just one objective this season, and that is to successfully defend both Drivers` and Manufacturers` World Rally Championship crowns. Sebastien Loeb is under contract with Citroen until the end of the current year and negotiations for 2010 are in the process of being finalised.

Like any top-flight sportsman, Sebastien Loeb enjoys fresh challenges, as was the case at the end of 2008 when he tested both the Red Bull F1 car and the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. However, his desire to drive a Formula 1 car and any opportunity which might arise as a result of partners being involved in different disciplines will in no way take precedence over Citroen`s objective for 2009.

Sebastien Loeb: "I know what my priority is: it is the World Rally Championship. But what would you expect a driver to answer if asked whether he would like to drive a Formula 1 car? That said, with four rallies still to come, we have our work cut out if we want to secure a sixth Drivers` title and a fifth Manufacturers` crown. For the moment, my energy is fully focused on that goal.

"I am a little surprised by the turn this whole business has taken, and above all by the way what I said has been misquoted or taken out of context to spread rumours. It just isn`t really my style to make declarations in the press about Sebastien Bourdais."

Citroen Racing Director, Olivier Quesnel: "Citroen Racing has never prevented its drivers from expressing their passion for motor sport. As we have already said, Sebastien Loeb is shortly due to do some testing with the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, because I know how important it is for him to try his hand at different activities as a driver. Should Seb get an opportunity to race in F1, our reaction would not be to prevent that from happening, so long as it would happen after the final round.

"We`ve got the challenge of Rally Finland coming up at the end of the month. The 2009 World Rally Championship is turning out to be a thrilling contest and I just hope that we will succeed in sparking the same sort of media interest as these rumours concerning Formula 1 have."