Confirmed: Fernando Alonso Will Race at Le Mans With Toyota
An extended WEC program is in the cards for the two-time F1 world champion.
Fernando Alonso has locked in his shot at Le Mans glory with Toyota Gazoo Racing. McLaren confirmed the announcement as executive director Zak Brown has been working in cooperation with Alonso to land him a seat for the French classic, including a recent prep run at the Rolex 24. The agreement between 'Nando and Toyota includes other World Endurance Championship bouts that don't interfere with Formula 1 Grands Prix events, beginning with the Six Hours of Spa on May 5.
As it seems, the only race that will clash with Alonso's F1 schedule in 2018 is the Japanese WEC round at Fuji. While the six-hour event is set for the same day as the United States Grand Prix, the Spaniard is still expected to compete in a Toyota TS050 Hybrid several times this year. Additionally, with the existing 2019 portion of WEC's 'Super Season' calendar, it looks as if Alonso will be able to drive in every race on the schedule for the second stint of the upcoming WEC campaign including a second run at Le Mans next June.
Alonso reinforced that his duties with McLaren and its Formula 1 team remain as the top priority. His understanding relationship with the Woking-based outfit has proven well for him in the past, and this opportunity will likely present much of the same for the two-time world champion.
"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," Alonso explained. "In no way will this challenge take away from my main target of Formula 1 with McLaren."
Alonso opted to race at the Indianapolis 500 in 2017, a long-known goal of his, rather than compete at the Monaco Grand Prix. He elaborated that although he didn't get the result he was looking for, he enjoyed the experience and hopes that he can have a better performance at the Circuit De La Sarthe this year.
"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." He continued, "It is a big challenge—much can go wrong—but I am ready, prepared, and looking forward to the fight."
McLaren team boss Zak Brown also released a statement on the move, saying that he's confident in Alonso's ability to compete successfully in the WEC while still maintaining his commitment to Formula 1.
"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.