Ryo Hirakawa Joins McLaren F1 Team as Reserve Driver
Big Announcement at the Suzuka Circuit
In an exciting revelation at the 17th round of the 2023 F1 Japan Grand Prix, it was announced that Ryo Hirakawa will take up the role of reserve driver for the McLaren F1 team starting from 2024. The announcement was made at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture, with Hirakawa and Akio Toyoda, chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, also known as Morizo, and several other members of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) team present at the paddock.
A Significant Career Milestone for Ryo Hirakawa
Hirakawa’s appointment as the reserve driver for the McLaren F1 team in 2024 marks a significant career milestone for the driver. Known for his impressive track record in Super Formula and Super GT, Hirakawa won the World Endurance Championship for Hypercar drivers for Toyota Gazoo Racing in 2022. As of 2023, he leads the Hypercar Drivers World Endurance Championship, having most recently won the 6 Hours of Portimão.
Continued Involvement of Toyota in F1 Racing
This development also highlights the continued influence and involvement of Toyota and its motorsport division, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, in the world of Formula 1 racing. Among those who were present at the announcement was Kazuki Nakajima, former F1 driver and currently the vice president of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe (TGR-E). Nakajima’s presence underscores the continuing collaboration between Toyota and the F1 circuit.
Hirakawa’s Role at McLaren F1 Team
As a reserve driver, Hirakawa will support the McLaren Formula 1 team in areas such as development in the simulator at the McLaren Technology Center and track time as part of the MCL35M test programme. Despite his new role at McLaren, Hirakawa will continue to represent Toyota Gazoo Racing in the World Endurance Championship in 2024.
Gratitude and Future Goals
Expressing his excitement about the new role, Hirakawa said, “I am delighted to be joining McLaren as a reserve driver. It is an exciting prospect to work with such a respected team, and I am grateful to Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, and Andrea Stella, team boss, for this opportunity.” He also expressed his gratitude towards Toyota Gazoo Racing for allowing him to serve as a driver for both teams, and to Morizo, who supported him as a driver. He further expressed his desire to make the most of the opportunity and show his growth.
With Ryo Hirakawa joining McLaren as a reserve driver, the team adds to its pool of talented drivers, further strengthening its position in the world of Formula 1. The development also serves as a testament to the growing presence of Japanese drivers in the international racing scene. As the world looks forward to the 2024 F1 season, all eyes will undoubtedly be on Hirakawa to see how he leverages this opportunity to grow and shine on the global stage.
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