There’s an air of sad inevitability about Citroën’s decision to drop Kris Meeke from its World Rally Championship team, but that doesn’t lessen the disappointment of the French manufacturer’s rather abrupt mid-season bombshell.

Mind you, some people viewing the chilling images of Meeke's crumpled Citroen C3 WRC from last weekend’s Rally Portugal might consider Citroën’s decision as the most sensible option it could take.

The safety cell of the Citroën stood up well to the high-speed trip into the scenery, but Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle were nonetheless extremely lucky to escape. Coming as it did after several other incidents during his time with the team, it seems patience has finally run out.

Meeke’s prodigious raw speed in a rally car has never been in question. Neither has his bravery or application. His consistency, however, has been sorely lacking for a team leader. As an enthusiastic supporter of British rally drivers, I kept waiting for the breakthrough; that moment when he strung together three or four podium finishes in a row and emerged as a title contender.

It never came. An impressive result was usually followed on the next event by a momentum-crushing mishap or a technical failure. Meeke’s strongest season came in 2015, when he finished fifth in the standings after a positive run during the last four events. He’s been up and down ever since he signed his dream full-time deal with Citroën and the weight of expectation upon him has increased.

Can all the blame be laid at Meeke’s door, though? In recent years Citroën’s rally assault – as a privateer team and then latterly as a factory entrant – has comprehensively failed to match the success enjoyed during the era when Sébastien Loeb led the team. Even now, a year and a bit into its life, the C3 WRC looks a handful compared to its rivals from M-Sport/Ford, Hyundai and Toyota.

Riding with Sebastien Loeb at the Festival of Speed

It makes me wonder whether the team environment wasn’t right to bring out the best in a driver of Meeke’s temperament. To be fair, he’s probably not the man to have in your car if you want to rack up insipid fifth or sixth-placed finishes in every event. He’s experienced some torrid luck – such as engine failure when he was leading in France last year – but has to shoulder the responsibility for failing to bring the car home on several events.