Mikko Hirvonen has insisted he never lost faith or confidence in his own abilities and that he knows when 'all works he can get the results'.
Hirvonen took a strong second place finish last weekend on Rally de Portugal, leading at one point in his Fiesta RS WRC, before eventually falling back behind Sebastien Ogier. It was his first podium since switching back to M-Sport over the winter and his first rostrum since Spain at the end of last season.
Asked if this gives him a confidence boost now, he replied: “I didn't lose my confidence. I was happy in Mexico and I feel happier the more kilometres I do with the car. When all works I know I can do the results.”
Pressed on if he can now win in Argentina next time out, the Finn added: “Definitely that's the aim, let's see how it goes.”
Meanwhile, despite being happy with second, he conceded they need to do more if they are to challenge Ogier and Volkswagen. Indeed Mikko identified tyre management as the key concern.
“We are happy with what we got. [But] of course, we always want to challenge for the win and to be up there. At the start, it was working, but there is still a bit more to do before we can do it on [all] three days. He [Ogier] is always good at managing the tyres. But I am too old now to be learning new tricks like that; I think the FIA should think about this and give me some more tyres!” he joked.
So was it just tyres or were there other factors that stopped them winning? “You can always improve in all areas. [But] the tyres were the biggest problem,” he continued more seriously. “We had used the softs on Friday. At the press conference that night, Seb told me I did the clever choice, but I'm not so sure in the end.
“[But] that's how it is. I did all I could with the tyres.”
“I have done really well – second after a tough start to the season. This gives more energy to the team for the rest of the season. I am really happy. That's about it – there are no more comments from me,” Hirvonen remarked.
Hirvonen's co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen meanwhile added: “It's really been a fantastic time in the car [here in Portugal]. It was a difficult season last year and not so fantastic start to this year [too], so it's nice to be back in the fight.
“It's hard to describe, but it's been a while since I have seen him [Hirvonen] smiling in sixth gear...”
So, can they really win again?
“If not, I stay at home,” Lehtinen concluded.