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No F1 for Loeb just yet

Posted by éndér_48 on Salı, Temmuz 14, 2009 No comments

World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb says his bid for a sixth WRC title this year will take priority over any Formula 1 opportunities - but his Citroen Team hasn't ruled out an F1 outing after the rally season is over.

Speculation that Loeb was lining up a Formula 1 race grew on Saturday when French newspaper L'Equipe reported he was interested in filling a seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso if its driver Sebastien Bourdais was dropped. "If there's a place at Toro Rosso, I'm available," Loeb reportedly said.

In an interview posted on his website on Sunday Loeb said too much had been read into his comments - although an admission in the same piece that he had spent time last week in the Red Bull Racing simulator in the UK did little to quell rumours.

On Sunday evening Loeb and Citroen Racing issued a joint statement to set the record straight. In it Loeb emphasised his commitment to his WRC campaign, with Citroen adding that the Frenchman was under contract for the remainder of this year and that negotiations for 2010 were nearly 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," read the statement.

Sebastien Loeb said: "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," he added.

Citroen Racing Director, Olivier Quesnel, said: "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."

Quesnel's comments raise the prospect that Loeb could tackle the last round of the F1 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which takes place on 1 November - the week after Wales Rally GB.

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