McLaren driver Fernando Alonso will race at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours race later this year, after concluding an agreement with McLaren and Toyota Gazoo Racing to compete in select rounds of the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Alonso, who made his endurance debut race at Daytona over the weekend, will contest every round of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. He will contest the WEC on dates that do not clash with F1 dates as that remains top priority.
The Spaniard 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 made 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.”
McLaren chief Zak Brown added, “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.”
Big Question: Is Fernando doing the right thing to run in F1 and WEC at the same time?