Ryo Hirakawa Designated McLaren Racing 2024 F1 Reserve Driver
TOYOTA GAZOO RACING Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa celebrate victory at the 6hs of Portimao, FIA WEC. April 15, 2023. Portugal. Photo Courtesy: FIA WEC / FocusPackMedia - Harry Parvin.

Japanese racing driver Ryo Hirakawa will take on a new career challenge in 2024, joining McLaren Racing F1 as a reserve driver for the team as part of its Driver Development program, the outfit revealed ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Ryo Hirakawa is an experienced driver competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Hypercar class and the Japanese Super Formula Championship - finished runner-up in 2020.

From next season, last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans winner will assist the Formula 1 team in several areas, which includes working on the simulator development at the McLaren Technology Centre.

With a Super License under his name, the Tokyo-born will also hit the track as part of the Woking-based squad MCL35M testing program.

I’m happy to have joined the McLaren F1 Team as a Reserve Driver. It’s an exciting prospect to work with such a respected team, and Im grateful to Zak and Andrea for the opportunity,” he commented.

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.”

The 29-year-old will combine the role within the British outfit with his driving duties at WEC, racing for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing; currently, he leads the Hypercar World Endurance Drivers’ Championship on board the Toyota GR010 Hybrid, partnering former F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.

The driver joined the Toyota Young Driver Program (TDP) in 2013 at the young age of 19; together, they have built a successful partnership ever since, including the Super GT championship, a title Hirakawa claimed alongside teammate Nick Cassidy - currently competes for Jaguar TCS Racing at the FIA Formula E World Championship, becoming the youngest GT500 champions in the series history.

In that regard, he remarked: “I would also like to take this opportunity to express two points of appreciation. The first one goes to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. I am grateful to them for allowing me to serve as a driver for the two teams.

The second thank you goes to MORIZO-san (Akio Toyoda), who has supported me as a driver. As a driver himself, his advice was that I should drive any car that gives me the chance to develop. I therefore want to make the most of this opportunity and return the favor by showing him how I have grown.”

For his part, Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team outlined: “I’m pleased to welcome Ryo to McLaren Racing as a Formula 1 Reserve Driver to further strengthen our growing support driver pool.”

Adding: “We are thankful to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for their collaboration by allowing Ryo to take on the new role alongside his driving duties. He has an impressive record on track, winning Le Mans as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship.

We look forward to working closely with Ryo. His wealth of experience will benefit the team in several areas as he joins our strong stable of drivers.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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