Quite predictably though, it was the new hybrid system which presented the biggest headache to M-Sport, not just in making it work but also developing a strategy in when to deploy the temporary extra boost the 100kW (134bhp) the MGU provides.
“There were huge challenges for the technical guys to do,” he says. “It wasn’t all hybrid, but that was a huge part, taking up 70-80% of our time. This is where our relationship with Ford Performance came into its own because we had some of their best electric powertrain guys working with us to ensure that we got the most out of the hybrid, as well as the strategy for when we used it – that was fantastic.
“Going with the full space frame was also a big challenge as well as packaging it in with the hybrid, fuel tank, the new roll-cage and safety cell system, added to reduction of some technology as moving to a sequential stick-shift meaning less hydraulics.”
At first the Puma was developed in the capable hands of Matthew Wilson and Adrien Formaux, but Millener says it was only when new boys Loeb and Craig Breen came on board that the Cumbrian team really knew it had something.
They both had experience with other cars of other WRC teams, Craig being the most recent with the Hyundai i20, which was a very good WRC car from previous gen,” he says.
“His feedback saying that the new car was faster, better and more performing than the previous set of WRC regulations was good.
“And Séb has so much experience in all different kinds of cars, he knows what makes a good one and what doesn’t. Having that positive confirmation against Adrian and Matthew, when all four drivers were reporting the same very good feelings, that was the turning point.”