Le Mans: Mixed fortunes for Formula 1 drivers

While Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Buemi watched their co-driver Kazuki Nakajima steered the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to pole position for the 86th Le Mans 24 Hour race, their former Formula 1 colleagues enjoyed a day of mixed fortunes in qualifying for the world’s greatest endurance race.

In the SMP Racing team, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button will start the #11 BR Engineering BR1 from seventh on the grid with former Renault F1 driver Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. The Englishman is making his debut at Le Mans.

Juan Pablo Montoya, a seven-time grand prix winner for Williams and McLaren in the 2000s, will line up 24th in his #32 United Autosports Ligier in the LMP2 class.

Montoya is ahead of Alonso in the quest for the Triple Crown of Motorsport with wins at the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, only Le Mans eludes him. But he is unlikely to achieve the feat this weekend contesting the LMP2 class.

Ex-Force India driver Paul Di Resta, in the other United Autosports Ligier was 18th in the #22 car he is sharing with Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque.

Others include:

  • Kamui Kobayashi second with #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing;
  • Bruno Senna third with #1 Rebellion;
  • Pastor Maldonado second in the LMP2 class with #31 Dragonspeed Oreca;
  • Jean-Eric Vergne third in LMP2 class with #26 G-Drive Racing;
  • Gianmaria Bruni pole in the LMGTE class with #91 Porsche GT Team;