Jari-Matti Latvala has denied taking offence at controversial comments made by his Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier after Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Ogier finished second to Latvala in Portugal, but at the end of the final stage climbed onto the roof of his car in mock celebration before stating that the best driver had not won. Ogier later explained that his comments were a reaction to his frustration with this season's start order regulations and not his team-mate's performance.
Today in Alghero, Latvala insisted he had not been insulted by the comments. "Absolutely not. I know how he's feeling. As a driver I know what it feels like to lose and nobody likes that," he said.
"I think for Sébastien it has been more difficult to accept the new regulations. He would like to have it more like it was last year and I think this is affecting his feelings. For me, the regulations are what they are. I can't influence or change them. It's better to concentrate on what you you can do. I think that's the difference between us."
Latvala said Ogier had made no direct apology for his comments. "No, not really. He said in the press conference [in Portugal] that he had all the respect for me, but there has been nothing really personal. I've said before Sebastien is the driver who has the biggest ambition to win. I've never ever seen anybody else like it - and when you know the person, when you know how he feels, you can understand it."
But while Latvala was playing down the significance of Ogier's words, Citroen's Kris Meeke weighed-in with his own verdict - branding Ogier's comments "completely disrespectful".
"We have had many world champions over the years, I don’t think we have seen anyone who has shown this amount of disrespect for other drivers," said Meeke.
"When someone beats you, you take your hat off - no matter what the circumstances. Being the best driver for two days of a three day rally does not win you the rally. Seb is old enough now to know that and it’s not nice for the sport to be saying those sort of things at the end of the stage."