Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso will pursue new motorsport challenges following the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours, handing over his place in the Toyota Gazoo Racing team in the FIA World Endurance Championship to Brendon Hartley.
Alonso, who is looking to new adventures within the Toyota Gazoo Racing family, will complete his WEC campaign when he joins his world championship-leading team-mates Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to defend the Le Mans crown they won together in June last year.
New Zealander Hartley was a double WEC champion and a Le Mans 24 Hours winner during four seasons with Porsche, before entering Formula 1. He will make his first public appearance behind the wheel of a Toyota TS050 Hybrid when he takes part in the Le Mans test day on 2 June.
Commenting on his new opportunity, Hartley said: “A big thanks to Toyota Gazoo Racing for giving me this opportunity. I know how professional and motivated this team is following my years competing against them in WEC, so I am fired up and am very happy to be joining them. I believe I am returning to WEC an even stronger driver following my experience in Formula 1 and I look forward to getting on track and building a strong relationship with my new team.”
Reflecting on his time with team, Alonso said: “I have enjoyed being part of Toyota Gazoo Racing in the WEC but this chapter is ending. Winning Le Mans is one of the highlights of my career as part of my Triple Crown challenge and I will always remember that victory we achieved together as a team last year.
Now is a good time to take on new challenges and there are many interesting opportunities to explore within Toyota Gazoo Racing. I wish Brendon all the best for next season and I would like to thank all the team members for the big effort they continue to make to achieve success in WEC. We still have two important races remaining as we are still in the fight to become WEC World Champions and I will be pushing hard to win both of them. I would love to put an end to this super season by celebrating a new world title with all the Toyota Gazoo Racing family.”
Hartley will join Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, José María López, Buemi and Nakajima as a race driver from the start of the next WEC season, at Silverstone on 1 September. The season will conclude at Le Mans on 14 June 2020. The driver line-up for each of the two TS050 Hybrid cars will be confirmed later.
The WEC team express their sincere thanks to Alonso for the valuable contribution he has made to a historic and unforgettable season for Toyota Gazoo Racing and wish him an exciting and successful future.