McLaren has signed Japanese driver Ryo Hirakawa as a reserve driver for next season as part of its Driver Development programme.
The 29-year-old secured glory at the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota and this season finds himself at the top of the Hypercar World Endurance Championship Drivers' standings, having also won the title last term.
Hirakawa will provide support through a simulator programme as well as earning on-track opportunities in the MCL35M alongside his Toyota WEC duties.
“I’m happy to have joined the McLaren F1 Team as a reserve driver," said Hirakawa.
" It’s an exciting prospect to work with such a respected team and I’m grateful to Zak and Andrea for the opportunity. 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.
“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.”
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McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella added: “I’m pleased to welcome Ryo to McLaren Racing as a Formula 1 reserve driver to further strengthen our growing support driver pool.
"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 who has already spent time on the simulator at MTC. His wealth of experience will benefit the team in a number of areas as he joins our strong stable of drivers.”