So whatever the young Frenchman does is going to boil down to the same result in the end: number two. That’s enough to make anyone frustrated.
Loeb’s answer to that would be that every team is a meritocracy where the individual takes second place to the common good, and that nobody would suggest that seven titles and the championship lead at the moment were an accident.
If Ogier didn’t like being in a team with him, Loeb might choose to add mischievously, why did he not head off to Ford when he had the chance last year? After all, that’s exactly what the older Sebastien advised at the time. Because just maybe he could see this situation coming...
In the end though, the team orders issue is a red herring. With only four rallies left to go this season, Loeb has the equivalent a win in hand over Ogier and is reasonably certain to take his eighth drivers’ title, barring a disaster.
That’s despite finishing second rather than first in Germany and Greece. The fact is that older Seb has beaten younger Seb fair and square this year, even under disadvantageous circumstances. Whether or not this will continue to be the case over the next two seasons is the more interesting question.
And where does this leave Volkswagen, who were reasonably confident of making Loeb an offer that he couldn’t refuse? There’s Petter Solberg, of course, but despite his obvious passion the Norwegian has looked increasingly muted this year. So maybe the solution is for Volkswagen to offer Ogier a solution to his perceived problem.
Naturally, Ogier has a contract. But contracts are merely hurdles rather than barriers to any team that is serious. And Volkswagen is deadly serious.
So it was a fascinating rally in Germany that was dominated by politics rather than action, a bit like Formula One a few years ago.
The one obligatory feel-good item at the end of any news round-up like this one was MINI. To be on the podium after only its third rally is a quite remarkable statement of intent. Like we said, the gloves are off now.