The 24 Hours of Le Mans is just around the corner and the 2023 edition of the legendary endurance event will celebrate 100 years since it was first run.
As always, many drivers we’ve seen on the Formula 1 grid in recent years will be taking part, and with a huge grid of 62 cars across all three classes to look forward to, there’s a wide range of talent this weekend to look at. on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
A total of 18 drivers who have started a Formula 1 Grand Prix will take to the circuit in France this weekend, so here’s who to look out for and where they’ll be competing.
Sébastien Bourdais has finished second at Le Mans three times and will compete in the top class for the first time since 2012, having won the GTE Pro in 2016.
Bourdais has been known in Formula 1 for a season and a half with Toro Rosso in 2008 and 2009. Bourdais’ success has been achieved in several other categories, with four Champ Car titles, 24 Hours of Daytona and IndyCar victories to his name. He will drive the #3 Cadillac alongside Renger van der Zande and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
Lotterer’s Formula One career was limited to just one start at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, and after qualifying ahead of regular driver Marcus Ericsson, his race was over on the first lap after an electrical failure in his Caterham.
It was a harsh end to what ended up being a one-off for the German, who has already tasted phenomenal success at the Circuit de la Sarthe – winning Le Mans three times in the past.
He is taking part in the race for the first time since 2019, in the #6 Porsche Penske car alongside Kévin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.
Former Sauber and Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi, a popular figure from his days in Formula 1 for his brave overtaking moves, now plays a dueling role with Toyota’s WEC team – both as driver and team principal.
The Japanese driver, whose only F1 podium was amid cheering scenes at his home Grand Prix at Suzuka in 2012, finally won at Le Mans in 2021 after four podiums in five previous attempts at endurance racing’s crown jewel.
He will once again team up with old teammates Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez in the #7 Toyota this weekend.
Three seasons in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso for Sébastien Buemi were ultimately not rewarded with a senior Red Bull seat for the Swiss driver, who took on other challenges at the end of 2011.
However, his success since then has been outstanding, winning four World Endurance Championships, a Formula E title and four Le Mans crowns to boot.
He teams up with Ryo Hirakawa and our next ex-F1 driver in the #8 Toyota…
Brendon Hartley took a slightly less trodden path to Formula 1, where he sat for a long time as a reserve driver while building an outstanding endurance career before earning his first drive at Toro Rosso towards the end of 2017.
He spent the full 2018 season with the team before returning to endurance racing, building on his already considerable success – with four World Endurance titles and three outright wins at Le Mans to his name.
Former Manor driver Will Stevens may never have had the chance to show his full talents in Formula 1, with a lone start at Caterham followed by a 2015 season with a team that languished towards the back of the field.
Two-time winner in GTE Am and LMP2 respectively, Stevens moves up to the premier class for the first time this year at the Circuit de la Sarthe as part of the #38 Jota line-up alongside Antonio Felix Da Costa and Yifei Ye.
After three seasons with Alfa Romeo and a best finish of P5 at Interlagos in 2019, Giovinazzi left the Formula 1 grid alongside teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the end of 2021, but was retained by Ferrari as their reserve driver. Ferrari is making an effort to return to Le Mans this year.
He will drive the #51 car alongside Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, with the Ferrari 499P showing clear pace during testing at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Former Sauber driver Felipe Nasr spent two seasons in Formula One in the mid-2010s, earning 29 career points during that time before moving on to sports car racing.
He has since clinched two IMSA titles since leaving F1 and is attempting Le Mans for a fourth time, although this will be his first time in the top class after three runs in LMP2 – partnering Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy in the # 75 Porsche Penske in hypercars.
Paul di Resta
Paul di Resta, who put in a solid performance for Force India from 2011 to 2013, made the move from driver to pundit at Sky Sports when his full-time driving endeavors in Formula 1 came to an end. European Le Mans Series and more.
Now a Peugeot driver in their new Hypercar entry, Di Resta took LMP2 class victory at Le Mans in 2020 and will aim higher this weekend alongside Mikkel Jensen in car #93, and another familiar face.. .
Jean Eric Vergne
Vergne, another of the clutch of former Formula 1 drivers on the Le Mans grid who spent several years with Toro Rosso, scored 51 points over his three seasons with Red Bull’s junior team.
After leaving at the end of 2014, he has since won two Formula E titles combined with an endurance schedule, with a number of campaigns in LMP2 before moving to Hypercars with Peugeot last year.
Jack Aitken was a reserve driver and was called up to Williams for a one-off start at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after the regular driver, George Russell, was pulled into the Mercedes garage to replace Covid-stricken Lewis Hamilton.
It’s been a tough night for Aitken at Bahrain’s outer circuit at short notice in what has been his only Formula 1 start to date, and he’s competed in a varied race schedule so far this year with starts in DTM, IMSA and now Le Mans this weekend – where he will drive the #311 Action Express Racing Cadillac alongside Luis Felipe Derani and Alexander Sims.
After three seasons with Sauber and Haas respectively, Esteban Gutiérrez remained a consistent presence in the Formula 1 paddock last year as a Mercedes development driver.
He took part in his first Le Mans in LMP2 last year and will this time move up to Hypercars in the #709 Glickenhaus with Franck Mailleux and Nathanaël Berthon.
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Now on to LMP2 and former Haas driver Pietro Fittipaldi, still the team’s current reserve, was called up for two races at the end of 2020 following Romain Grosjean’s terrifying crash in Bahrain, which ended his Formula 1 career.
The Brazilian driver looked after Haas for the rest of the season and has continued to race elsewhere in the meantime, with a season of LMP2 racing last season as he prepares for his second race at Le Mans after finishing 14th in his class at the Circuit de la Sarthe last year.
He will team up with David Heinemeier Hansson and Oliver Rasmussen in the #28 Jota.
Jan Magnussen, who has partnered son and current Haas driver Kevin in endurance racing in his time off the Formula 1 grid, will once again race without his son at Le Mans this time.
He is far from a stranger on the track though, as this is his 24th attempt at the legendary 24-hour race – he has taken four class wins in that time.
Magnussen’s F1 career saw spells at McLaren and Stewart in the 1990s, and he will drive the #32 Inter Europol Competition car alongside Mark Kvamme and Anders Fjordbach.
Giedo van der Garde
Giedo van der Garde is now a regular on the Formula 1 expert scene in addition to his continued driving endeavors. He drove the 2013 season in a largely uncompetitive Caterham in his only season in F1.
He has a wealth of experience at LMP2 level, winning the ELMS title in 2016 and competing in five campaigns in the World Endurance Championship in that machine, with a best finish of 7th in class at Le Mans in 2018. He will driving alongside Roberto Lacorte and Patrick Pilet in the #39 Graff Racing car this time.
One of only two F1 race winners on this list, Robert Kubica’s 2008 victory in Canada was one of the sport’s most impressive ever and after his well-documented serious rally injury saw him make a remarkable comeback to Formula 1 nine years after he last held a full-time seat.
Last time he was second in the LMP2 class at Le Mans and will take it one step further this year, alongside Rui Andrade and Louis Delétraz in car #41 for Team WRT.
Daniil Kvyat prepared for his first participation in Le Mans this year and left Formula 1 at the end of 2020 with more than 100 starts and a number of podium appearances to his name, including a spell at Red Bull where he was nicknamed ‘Torpedo’ got. by Sebastian Vettel after a brave pass on the then Ferrari driver.
He spent 2018 on the sidelines after being ousted by Toro Rosso, having returned to the team after Max Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull in his place, before spending another two seasons with Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri before leaving F1 altogether left.
Kvyat has had a handful of starts in NASCAR and LMP2 cars and will drive the #63 PREMA alongside Doriane Pin and Mirko Bortolotti this weekend.
Innovative cars [Le Mans Garage 56]
The 2009 World Champion announced his entry as part of a surprise Garage 56 entry reserved for tomorrow’s technology in partnership with NASCAR in February, featuring the modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – and its screaming V8 – featuring Button, NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson and former Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel.
The most decorated ex-Formula 1 driver in the field, Button’s 2009 world title was backed by more than 300 career race starts, with 15 wins and 50 podium finishes including Brawn, McLaren, BAR, Honda and more.
The Camaro also looks competitive in the field, with the modifications to the car making it faster than the entire LMGTE Am class on test day earlier this week.