McLaren has described Fernando Alonso’s commitment to Toyota and the World Endurance Championship as minimal and emphasised he’s a Formula 1 driver being loaned to endurance racing despite the date switch of the 6 hours of Fuji being solely to cater for the Spaniard.

During the launch of the 2018-19 WEC ‘Super-season’ it was confirmed the Fuji event has been pushed forward one week in order to avoid a clash with F1’s United States Grand Prix to which free up Alonso to compete at both. The decision has been hit with a backlash of criticism from fellow WEC drivers who are running dual campaigns in series like Super GT and IMSA who now face clashes of their own due to the date changes.

After Alonso was named as part of Toyota’s driver squad, combining his rookie WEC season with the 2018 F1 campaign at McLaren, the Woking-based team has moved to emphasise Alonso is being “on loan” to Toyota in WEC and his engagements will be purely racing and excludes any sponsor or extra team commitments despite the changes to accommodate Alonso.

“Fernando’s effectively restricted to just driving the race car,” Zak Brown, McLaren executive director, said. “So as far as commercial appearances, sponsor commitments and things of that nature, that’s very minimised. His relationship with Toyota is he’s on loan from us. We came to an arrangement with Toyota which is to allow him to race the car but not to travel the globe doing commercial commitments.

“It’s for everything from minimising his travel to any potential sponsor conflicts. Toyota don’t really have many sponsors on there so there aren’t any sitting there today that are in conflict with McLaren, but if they do find a partner that’s conflicting with McLaren we couldn’t have Fernando walking around in competing sponsor attire.

“He’s a McLaren driver first and foremost and a Formula 1 driver. When you think of Fernando you think of him as a McLaren Formula 1 driver first and foremost.”

Brown has credited Alonso’s passion for racing as the sole drive behind the dual programme in WEC and F1 and believes if the arrangement hadn’t been secured the two-time F1 world champion would have found other ways to keep racing during weekends off from F1.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. He races or drives every weekend, half of the time under a different name when he’s karting,” Brown explained. “He just wants to be in race cars.

“So I think it keeps him fresh, it keeps him focused, it’s what he wants to do. I think drivers lose motivation before age catches them. Fernando is very well prepared, knows what it takes to be successful and he wouldn't have taken on the additional commitment if he didn't think he could do both at the highest level. I definitely don't think it's any other agenda than he just wants to race and he wants to win Le Mans.”


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