The Le Mans 24 Hours is just around the corner and the 2023 edition of the legendary endurance event celebrate 100 years since it was first run.
As ever, plenty of drivers we have seen grace the Formula 1 grid in years gone by will be taking part, and with an enormous 62-car grid across all three classes to look out for, there is a breadth of talent to watch this weekend at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
In total, 18 drivers to have started a Formula 1 Grand Prix will take to the track this weekend in France, so here is who to look out for and where they will be competing.
Three times a runner-up at Le Mans, Sébastien Bourdais will be gunning for outright victory and competing in the top class for the first time since 2012, having won in GTE Pro in 2016.
Known in Formula 1 for a season and a half at Toro Rosso in 2008 and 2009, Bourdais’ success has come in various other categories, with four Champ Car titles, 24 Hours of Daytona and IndyCar victories to his name. He’ll be piloting the #3 Cadillac alongside Renger van der Zande and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
Lotterer’s Formula 1 career was limited to just the one start at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, and after qualifying ahead of regular race driver Marcus Ericsson, his race was over on the first lap after an electrical fault in his Caterham.
It was a harsh end to what ended up being a one-off appearance for the German, who has already tasted phenomenal success around the Circuit de la Sarthe before – having already won three times at Le Mans in the past.
He’s entering the race for the first time since 2019, in the #6 Porsche Penske car alongside Kévin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.
A popular figure from his time in Formula 1 for his brave overtakes, former Sauber and Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi plays a duel role these days with Toyota’s WEC team – both as driver and team principal.
The Japanese driver, whose sole F1 podium came among jubilant 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’ll partner long-time team-mates Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez once again 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 moved onto other challenges at the end of 2011.
His success since then has been excellent, however, going on to win four World Endurance Championships, a Formula E title and four Le Mans crowns to boot.
He partners Ryo Hirakawa and our next ex-F1 driver in the #8 Toyota…
Brendon Hartley took something of a lesser-trodden path to Formula 1, sitting as a reserve driver for a long time while he built up a sterling endurance career before earning a drive at Toro Rosso for the first time towards the end of 2017.
He spent the full 2018 season at the team before moving back to endurance racing, where he has built on his already considerable success – with four World Endurance titles and three outright victories at Le Mans to his name.
Former Manor driver Will Stevens perhaps never had the chance to show his full talents in Formula 1, with a sole start at Caterham followed by a 2015 season at a team languishing towards the back of the field.
Twice a class winner in GTE Am and LMP2 respectively, Stevens steps up to the premier class at the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time this year 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 along with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen at the end of 2021 – but was retained by Ferrari as their reserve driver – and will head the Ferrari effort in their return to Le Mans this year.
He will pilot the #51 car alongside Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, with the Ferrari 499P having shown clear pace in testing around the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Former Sauber driver Felipe Nasr spent two seasons in Formula 1 in the mid-2010s, earning 29 career points in that time before moving into sportscar racing.
He has since taken two IMSA titles since leaving F1 and is attempting Le Mans for the fourth time, though 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
A sturdy performer for Force India from 2011-2013, Paul di Resta transitioned from driver to pundit with Sky Sports when his full-time driving efforts wound down in Formula 1 – though he has continued a full racing schedule in the likes of DTM, the European Le Mans Series and more.
Now a Peugeot driver in their new Hypercar entry, Di Resta took victory in the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2020 and will look to aim higher this weekend alongside Mikkel Jensen in the #93 car, and another familiar face…
Another of the clutch of former Formula 1 drivers on the Le Mans grid to have spent several years at Toro Rosso, Vergne scored 51 points across his three seasons with Red Bull’s junior team.
After leaving at the end of 2014, he has since won two Formula E titles and combined that with an endurance schedule, with a couple of campaigns in LMP2 before moving up to Hypercars with Peugeot last year.
Having been reserve driver, Jack Aitken was called up for Williams for a one-off start at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after regular race driver, George Russell, was pulled into the Mercedes garage to replace the Covid-struck Lewis Hamilton.
It was a difficult evening for Aitken around Bahrain’s outer circuit on short notice in what has been his only Formula 1 start to date, and he has taken part in a varied racing 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 around the Formula 1 paddock as recently as last year as Mercedes’ development driver.
He took part in his first Le Mans last year in LMP2 and will step up to Hypercars this time around in the #709 Glickenhaus with Franck Mailleux and Nathanaël Berthon.
Onto LMP2 now and former Haas driver Pietro Fittipaldi, still the team’s current reserve, was called up for two races at the end of 2020 after Romain Grosjean’s terrifying crash in Bahrain that saw his Formula 1 career end.
The Brazilian driver saw out the remainder of the season for Haas and has carried on racing elsewhere in the meantime, with a season of LMP2 racing last season and this as he gears up for his second tilt at Le Mans, having finished 14th in class at the Circuit de la Sarthe last year.
He’ll partner David Heinemeier Hansson and Oliver Rasmussen in the #28 Jota.
Having partnered son and current Haas driver Kevin in endurance races in his time away from the Formula 1 grid, Jan Magnussen will be racing again without his son at Le Mans this time around.
He’s far from a stranger at the track however, with this being his 24th attempt at the legendary 24-hour race – earning four class victories in that time.
Magnussen’s F1 career took in spells with McLaren and Stewart in the 1990s, and he will partner Mark Kvamme and Anders Fjordbach in the #32 Inter Europol Competition car.
Giedo van der Garde
Now a regular on the Formula 1 punditry scene alongside his continued driving endeavours, Giedo van der Garde took in the 2013 season in a largely uncompetitive Caterham in his sole season in F1.
He has a whole host of experience at LMP2 level, winning the ELMS title in 2016 and taking in five campaigns in the World Endurance Championship in that machinery, with a best finish of 7th in class at Le Mans in 2018. He’ll be driving alongside Roberto Lacorte and Patrick Pilet in the #39 Graff Racing car this time around.
One of only two F1 race winners on this list, Robert Kubica’s victory at Canada in 2008 was one of the most impressive seen in the sport at the time, and following his well-documented serious rallying injury, he made a remarkable comeback to Formula 1 nine years after he last had a full-time seat.
He took second in class in LMP2 at Le Mans last time around and will look to go one better this year, alongside Rui Andrade and Louis Delétraz in the #41 car for Team WRT.
Preparing for his first tilt at Le Mans this year, Daniil Kvyat left Formula 1 at the end of 2020 with more than 100 starts and a couple of podium appearances to his name, including a stint at Red Bull that saw him nicknamed the ‘Torpedo’ by Sebastian Vettel after a brave pass on the then-Ferrari driver.
He spent 2018 on the sidelines after being dropped by Toro Rosso, having moved back to the team after Max Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull in his place, before two more seasons with Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri before leaving F1 altogether.
Kvyat has had a handful of starts in NASCAR and LMP2 cars, and will drive alongside Doriane Pin and Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 PREMA 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 the technology of tomorrow, in collaboration with NASCAR back in February, with the modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 – and its screaming V8 – set to have 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 World title in 2009 was backed up by more than 300 race starts in his career, with 15 wins and 50 podiums among them for Brawn, McLaren, BAR, Honda and more.
The Camaro looks competitive among the field too, with the modifications made to the car putting it faster than the entire LMGTE Am class on test day earlier in the week.