The Woking-based outfit has signed Ryo Hirakawa, the World Endurance Championship title holder & Le Mans 24 Hours winner, as its reserve driver for Formula 1. The announcement came after Alex Palou's decision to leave the team and stick with Ganassi in the US series. The Japanese driver, 29, is now a part of the firm's Driver Development team and will stand alongside Pato O'Ward as the Woking-based racing team's reserve driver in F1. Hirakawa achieved racing success in the FIA World Endurance Championship by taking first place in the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans. With one race left, the 29-year-old driver is currently in the lead with his teammates in the 2023 WEC Drivers' Standings. He also triumphed in this year's Six Hours of Portimao. To learn more about the response of both the team and the Japanese driver on this new alliance, let's take a read.
McLaren and Ryo Hirakawa: Key Highlights and Reactions
Hirakawa will continue to compete for Toyota in the WEC along with fulfilling his responsibilities with the Woking-based team, according to an official announcement from McLaren.
While commenting on his association with McLaren, the 29-year-old driver, shared “It’s an exciting prospect to work with such a respected team and I’m grateful to Zak [Brown, McLaren Racing CEO] and Andrea [Stella, McLaren Team Principal] for the opportunity. I’ve already met the team and experienced the simulator at MTC which has allowed me to hit the ground running. I’m now fully prepared and focused for the remainder of 2023.”
Andrea Stella, McLaren Team Principal, also commented on this development and said ''I’m pleased to welcome Ryo to McLaren Racing as a Formula 1 reserve driver to further strengthen our growing support driver pool. We are thankful to Toyota Gazoo Racing for their collaboration by allowing Ryo to take on the new role alongside his driving duties.''
He also added ''We look forward to working closely with Ryo, who has already spent time on the simulator at MTC. His wealth of experience will benefit the team in a number of areas as he joins our strong stable of drivers.''