BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team team leader Mikko Hirvonen has backed team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala as the right man to help him spearhead the Blue Oval's assault on the WRC.
Latvala has come under fire for a series of incidents so far this season, with the biggest – and most dramatic – coming last time out in Portugal when he rolled his Focus 17 times down a hillside while leading on the opening day.
The younger Finn has picked up just six points from the first four events of the year to lie down in seventh in the standings, while Ford are 24 points behind Citroen in the race for the manufacturers' title race.
While Latvala's mistakes have led to calls in some quarters for him to be replaced, team boss Malcolm Wilson has shown support for his young charger, who has revealed he will drive for a finish in Argentina this weekend, and Hirvonen too insisted that his countryman was the right person for the job.
“Yes I do,” he replied when asked if he believed Latvala can be the strong second driver Ford needs. “[His mistakes] doesn't affect me at all. I mean, I have enough things to worry about with Sebastien [Loeb] and trying to beat him in rallies, so whatever Jari-Matti is doing doesn't really concern me.
“He has made some mistakes, so when he can get his head together he can be there fighting for the win as well.”
Hirvonen, who lies second in the drivers standings behind Sebastien Loeb with four rounds gone, admitted that he isn't happy to have seen the defending champion win all of the events so far this year and said he was keen to try and break his seasonal duck in South America this weekend.
“It's been okay, but for sure I'm not happy how it has been,” he conceded. “We were hoping that we could win one or two rallies from these four, but Sebastien has been able to win them all.
“It has been a little bit [frustrating], but it has been quite good anyway. I haven't given up and this is now a new opportunity for me to fight back. Hopefully, we can do it here.”