McLaren have confirmed that double Formula 1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso, will be joining Toyota Gazoo Racing for the 2018/2019 WEC Super Season. He will compete in all races that have no conflict with his Formula 1 commitments, including Le Mans in both 2018 and, potentially, 2019.
Alonso has made no secret of his desire to win the unofficial Triple Crown of Motorsports – victories at the Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alonso entered the Indy 500 with much fanfare in 2017 and won Rookie of the Year. However, an engine failure robbed him of victory.
“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,” said Zak Brown, McLaren’s Executive Director. “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.”
Fernando Alonso said “I am very excited to participate in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time. It is a race which I have followed closely for a long time and it has always been an ambition of mine to participate. Endurance racing is a different discipline compared to single-seaters and it will be an interesting challenge. I am looking forward to working together with, and learning from, Sébastien and Kazuki, who are both very experienced endurance drivers. It will be a learning curve for me but I am ready for this challenge and I can’t wait to get started.”
Anthony Davidson steps down from front-line duties and becomes Toyota’s reserve and development driver.
Alonso goes into his Le Mans debut with a strong chance of winning, provided that the reliability issues that hamstrung their 2016 and 2017 efforts are sorted.
What’s not to like about this news? Fernando is a racer’s racer, as shown with his Indy 500 debut last season and his first foray into multi-class endurance racing at this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. It harks back to the 60’s and 70’s where race drivers would enter anything and everything.
The only round of the WEC that conflicts with Alonso’s F1 commitment is Fuji, so it’s likely that he will enter all races bar the 6 hour Japanese race for the WEC’s so-called Super Season. This may change depending on the 2019 Formula 1 calendar.
A Le Mans victory is a big ask, especially first time out. But Toyota Gazoo Racing have the speed, little competition, and a hunger to win after so many cruel defeats .