The McLaren F1 team has confirmed it will allow Fernando Alonso to compete in upcoming rounds of the World Endurance Championship, including this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. That is possible after reaching an agreement with both Fernando and Toyota Gazoo Racing.
McLaren and Fernando are in full agreement that Formula 1 remains their shared top priority. Fernando will compete in every round of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, and will dovetail his sports car commitments around Grands prix. It means that he will not contest WEC’s Japanese round, at the Fuji Speedway on October 21. That is due to it clashing with the US Grand Prix, held at COTA in Austin (Texas).
Zak Brown, Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group, said:
“It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours. And I think everybody within our organisation appreciates that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver such as Fernando is a formidable asset for any team in F1.
“Last year, we came to the joint decision to go racing with Fernando at the Indy 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix. But we’ve always said that we would consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, and we both know that, in 2018, our core priority is success in Formula 1.”
“Like Fernando, at McLaren, we’re racers at heart, and our team is built on a brave heritage of competing and succeeding in different forms of the sport. Equally important is the confidence that nothing detracts from our number one goal of Formula 1. After proper evaluation, we are satisfied that this campaign does not do that and that McLaren’s best interests prevail.”
Fernando Alonso said:
“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out.”
“This year, I have the chance thanks to McLaren to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.”
“My deal to race in WEC was only possible through the good understanding and strong relationship I have with McLaren. And I’m very happy that they listened and understood what this means to me.”
“In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren. In 2018, my aim is to be competitive at every grand prix. And I feel sure that we are closer to achieving that.”
Alonso already made a test with Toyota. His latest adventure was a participation in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
— Daytona International Speedway (@DISupdates) January 29, 2018
Alonso will be a part of the #8 TS050 HYBRID crew together with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima
The #7 remains unchanged and consists of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López. Anthony Davidson will remain a member of the team, bringing his World Championship-winning experience to a new role as Reserve and Development Driver. Two-time Le Mans winner Alex Wurz will continue as Team Advisor and Ambassador having made a significant contribution since taking the position in 2016.
Alonso will make his LMP1 race debut at Spa-Francorchamps in May.
Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation said:
“I am looking forward to seeing how much Toyota Racing will grow when our drivers and all team members take what they have learned thus far in endurance racing and add to it what they will gain from Fernando’s experience. The entire team is excited about this opportunity for growth. Through the challenge of WEC endurance races and, among those, on the gruelling roads of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Toyota will do its best, together with Fernando, to outdrive the competition.”
Hisatake Murata, Team President said:
“This WEC season is unique because it features two editions of the Le Mans 24 Hours so we are all looking forward to it. I believe we have an extremely strong driver line-up with real strength in depth. Fernando is a rookie in WEC but he brings speed and experience gained from many years at the top of his sport. We are all excited to work with him but endurance racing is a team effort and we know all of our drivers are performing at a very high level. I would like to thank Anthony for his professional approach in difficult circumstances; he remains a strong part of our driving line-up and he will be busy this season.”
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@Toyota_Hybrid) January 30, 2018