McLaren have announced that Fernando Alonso will compete in the 2018-2019 superseason of the World Endurance Championship.
Fernando will join the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, alongside former F1 drivers Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, with Anthony Davidson stepping aside in order for the Spaniard to join. He’ll get his first taste of the Le Mans 24 Hours race in June.
McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown says the move will not be a distraction from Alonso’s Formula One commitments:
“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.”
The move is in line with Alonso’s desire to score motorsport’s Triple Crown – winning at the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and Le Mans. Graham Hill is the only driver to have performed the feat. Alonso says his main priority will be to be competitive at every F1 Grand Prix in 2018, but that his hunt for the Triple Crown is also important to him:
“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’. 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, who will be powered by Renault engines in F1 this year, previously confirmed that they will not be participating in the 2018 Indy 500.