There has been a glued bond when it comes to F1 and Le Mans. Reminiscently the present and the foregone drivers will have their hands busy over the Le Mans 24 hours race weekend. They take immense pride in doing so with the race stretches for a whole day.
This year it is no different with as many as 25 drivers line-up in various categories throughout the grid. They say driving with traffic in daylight is much easier than driving on a care-free road in dark and it was last year we have had the closest finish with heartbreaks and ecstasies on the most exciting endurance race.
For a racing driver taming the Le Mans’ course is a victory of their own and here creating history is something really special on the grueling encounter. For the 80th annual event, here are the drivers with F1 connection on the great Circuit de la Sarthe:
Scotsman Allan McNish, ace driver for Audi’s LMP1 hopes, is a former Toyota driver in 2002 season after having tested with Mclaren and Benetton in the early ’90s and spending most of his time with F3000 and sportscar racing.
The well known F1 commentator Martin Brundle, former Willimas, Brabham, Mclaren and Jordan driver, will team-up with his son Alex(current GP3 driver) at the wheels of Zytek-Nissan.
In the LMP2 class, former Mclaren and Ferrari driver, Swede, Stefan Johansson features on a Lola-Nissan who finished 6th overall in the 1987 season for Marlboro Mclaren.
Marc Gene is a former Minardi and BMW Williams driver and a current tester for Ferrari has replaced Timo Bernhard in Audi’s line-up after the latter failed to regain his fitness.
Toyota has high reputation in the endurance division; Toyota GT-One held the circuit record at La Sarthe till 2006 and having announced their comeback last year; the fans are buzzing as it will provide fierce competition to the dominating Audi team.
Their number 8 entry is a super-duper line up with the likes of Anthony Davidson who drove for Super Aguri, Sebastien Buemi who drove for Toro Rosso with scoring 15 points last season and Stephane Sarrazin an one-off Minardi driver making their presence felt of being the youngest squad. Williams’ driver mentor and their former driver Alex Wurz will drive another hybrid toyota TS030 along with Kazuki Nakajima who drove for Williams for three years since 2007.
Making his debut, F1 veteran Nick Heidfeld will drive a Lola-Toyota of REBELLION Racing team partnering Neel Jani, a former reserve driver for Toro Rosso, and ‘The Professor’ Alain Prost’s son Nico Prost.
Also embarking in LMP1 class: Karun Chankdhok(JRM Racing ), Sebastian Bourdais(Pescaralo), David Brabham(JRM), Franck Montagny(OAK) and Jean-Christophe Bouillon.
In the LMP2: Shinji Nakano(former Minardi driver) and the Brendon Hartley(Redbull reserrve in 2009) confirmed for Boutsen Ginion Racing and Murphy Prototype Racing respectively.
Former Pacific F1 Team driver Jean-Denis Deletraz will also be on-board, so does Bas Leinders, the former friday session Minardi driver with OAK Racing.
Coming into the GT class, the Italian pair of Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni will drive a Ferrari 458 GT. With Andrea Bertolini(Ferrari test driver) and Olivier Beretta racing for AF Corse team. Former F1 safety car driver Oliver Gavin and former Stewart Grand Prix driver Jan Magnussen will be there for Corvette along with Portuguese driver Pedro Lamy.