F It used to be a matter of course that racing drivers in parallel in started several different series. Today it is rather the exception that the Formula 1 aces also compete outside the Grand Prix circus. The last prominent F1 driver who dared a guest start at Le Mans was Nico Hülkenberg. In 2015, the Rhinelander won the classic straight away.
Fernando Alonso is now going one step further. After his appearances at the Indy500 in the previous year and the 24-hour race in Daytona last weekend, the Spaniard will contest the entire WEC season in 2018. Including the race around the clock in Le Mans. Alonso's employer McLaren has officially confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Toyota on the double program.
Alonso drives WEC season - except for Fuji
There is one exception, however: Alonso cannot take part in the Japanese home game in Fuji. The 6h race collides with the US Grand Prix in Austin. Formula 1 has priority here. Because the upcoming WEC season lasts until 2019, it is also still unclear what it will look like with participation in the races after the turn of the year.
'It's no secret that Alonso won the 24h race in Le Mans wanted to drive, ”said McLaren boss Zak Brown when announcing the WEC program. 'Everyone here in our organization knows that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver like Fernando is valuable to any F1 team.'
'Last year we decided that Fernando would do the Indy 500instead of the Monaco Grand Prix. But we also said that each of these missions will be decided on a case-by-case basis. We both know that success in Formula 1 is the top priority in 2018. We have to be sure that nothing distracts us from this goal. After a thorough analysis, we can say that this is not the case with this program and that McLaren's interests are not affected. ”
First Toyota tests in Bahrain
Alonso knows very well what he's getting into. After the 2017 WEC season finale in Bahrain, the Spaniard had already completed the first test laps in the Toyota TS050 LMP1 racer. The engineers were impressed by the speed of the two-time world champion. And the example of Nico Hülkenberg shows that a Le Mans victory is not impossible - especially since the German competition has now cleared the field.
'I have always said clearly that it is my goal to To win the 'Triple Crown' of motorsport - that is, to win the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24h race, 'explained Alonso. “We tried Indy last year and just failed. Thanks to McLaren, I have a chance of winning Le Mans this year. '
' This is a big challenge and a lot can go wrong. But I'm ready and looking forward to the fight. The agreement to start in the WEC was only possible thanks to my good relationship with McLaren. I am very happy that they listened to me and understood what that means to me. ”
Toyota has already announced that Alonso will take the number 8 car with Swiss Sebastien Buemi and Japanese Kazuki Nakajima will share. For this, Anthony Davidson is demoted to development driver. The first WEC race in which Alonso will be at the start is the 6h race in Spa-Francorchamps in May.