Neuville clarifies WRC future amid anger over FIA technical reforms

The Hyundai driver has moved to clarify his future after comments made in an interview with AutoHebdo this week suggested this season could be his last. The championship leader is in the final year of his contract with Hyundai and is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.

Neuville has previously told that he would like to secure a new two-year deal and this view remains. The 35-year-old also clarified that the only situation where he could envisage himself retiring from the championship next year would be if Hyundai decided to pull out.

“I never said I want to retire but I think if a manufacturer pulls out, I will probably retire, that is what I said,” Neuville told

“This has been turned that way by the media. For sure if Hyundai decided to pull out, I would probably be retired, but not only me.»

When asked about the comments made last year about remaining in the championship for a further two years, he replied: “Yeah for sure [I would like to].

“I never said that I want to retire; I don’t know where that came from. I said that if Hyundai pulls out, I could be retired by next year for example and that is the truth.

“If Hyundai carries on, and they still want me, then I would like to carry on of course.”

The comments have arrived in the wake of the FIA releasing its vision for the future of the WRC. While Neuville is in favour of proposals to improve the event formats and the championship’s promotion, he strongly opposes plans to make changes to the Rally1 technical regulations for next year.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

The FIA intends to remove hybrid power from the Rally1 cars and further reduce the performance of the cars through changes to the aerodynamics and the air restrictor to bring them closer to the Rally2 class. The exact details of the proposed aero changes are yet to be confirmed by the FIA.

The world motorsport governing body then wishes to introduce new Rally1 regulations for 2026 based on the current Rally1 car concept. The cars are expected to incorporate a larger spaceframe chassis, produce 330 horsepower and will be capped at €400,000.

“To be honest it was a bit of surprise for myself and many others that is for sure,” Neuville added.

“I would prefer something stable until the end of 2026, and to use that time period now to plan something nicely for the future of the WRC, whatever it would be I don’t know.

“The question is simple; who is going to join the championship in 2025 and 2026 with the regulations we have now in a transition period that change basically every year? I don’t know.

“Why I ask this question is that if we change the regulation [for 2025], it will bring additional costs to the existing manufacturers who are spending millions and millions for more than 10 years.

“They now have to modify the car and, okay, there is the removal of the hybrid — but what is the cost of a hybrid when you have a budget of nearly hundreds of millions of euros? Removing around 15 hybrid kits, which is roughly two million euros per year, where is the difference?

“So why not keep something stable until [the end of] 2026 and use this period now to develop something for 2027? Call all the manufacturers and bring them round one table and ask them ‘Who is interested in entering the WRC?’

“Maybe out of 20 you will maybe see seven, and the seven that stay you ask them what they need. The conversation is then about budgets, amount of people, technology, what type of cars you want to promote. That is the question and then from there you start, and you find a common sense regulation that works for everybody.

“Creating the promoter group within the FIA, changes to event formats, bringing back remote service to be closer to the public and reducing hospitality costs, these are interesting points because these are changes that make sense. If the promotion is great and the return on investment is great nobody cares how much a WRC car costs.”

Neuville says the FIA’s working group had not reached out him or his fellow drivers for input regarding the future vision, which he feels would have been valuable.

“I just find it a bit of a shame that the decisions have gone against what the teams have asked for, and the teams were not really considered in the decision, and also the drivers were not either,” he said.

“With all the feedback we gave, very little has been heard. I have never ever had any contact with the new FIA working group.

“I’m not a manufacturer, but I am the driver leading the championship and I have been here many years, so maybe also I can give some feedback on what has changed over the years and what changes have had a more negative impact over the years.”

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