Toyota Gazoo Racing and McLaren Racing have confirmed that Fernando Alonso has signed a deal with the Toyota team to race in the World Endurance Championship. The announcement is a further step into Alonso's attempt to win the triple crown.
Fernando, 36, will make his LMP1 race debut at Spa-Francorchamps in May and will compete in all rounds of the 2018-19 season which do not conflict with his existing Formula 1 obligations. As a result, he will not contest WEC’s Japanese round, at the Fuji Speedway on October 21, due to it clashing with the US Grand Prix, held at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas.
Alonso will drive the #8 TS050 HYBRID, with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. It is expected that in this race, Anthony Davidson, who now becomes Toyota's test and reserve driver, will drive the 1000hp TS050.
Fernando Alonso looks forward to the new season, which will be extremely busy, adding another championship on his to-do list longside the 21-race F1 calendar.
“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", the Spanaird said.
"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 meanwhile, the F1 team with whom Alonso has a one-year contract, with an option to extend beyond 2018, underlined that they agreed with Alonso that their priorities remain becoming competitive in Formula One.
“It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours", said Zak Brown, Executive Director of McLaren Racing. "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.”