A record number of entrants in the World Endurance Championship has been confirmed by the FIA for 2022, with 10 former F1 drivers scattered across the field.
Paul di Resta has been promoted from his former seat in LMP2 with United Autosports and will move up to the top-tier Hypercar class with the newly-formed Peugeot TotalEnergies team, with Hypercars having expanded from three to six cars this season.
Former F1 drivers Kamui Kobayashi, Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi all continue in their respective Toyota teams, but ex-Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima has left the series for 2022.
LMP2 has also significantly expanded, with 15 separate entries being another record for the championship which is also well represented with ex-Formula 1 talent in the WEC’s 10th anniversary season in its current guise.
Robert Kubica, who was within a lap of winning his class at Le Mans last year before his team’s car ran out of fuel, will continue in LMP2 with PREMA ORLEN, combining his endurance schedule with his Alfa Romeo reserve driver duties.
Spare a thought for Robert Kubica, though, whose team was leading comfortably in LMP2, but ended up retiring on the final lap of the race 😳pic.twitter.com/4Z58FBzx6q
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) August 22, 2021
Former Sauber driver Felipe Nasr also appears in LMP2 and will drive for American giants Team Penske, who enter a team into the WEC for the first time.
Along with the Brazilian, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Stevens – who replaces the retired Anthony Davidson at JOTA – and Esteban Gutierrez will all take part for their respective teams, with a plethora of ex-Formula 2 drivers also taking seats throughout the field.
And in the LMGTE Pro class, former Minardi driver Gianmaria Bruni will take the wheel, driving for Porsche.
There has long been hope of expanding the field at the top of endurance racing and the FIA’s announcement said Ferrari, Porsche and Audi are set to continue their development programmes ahead of their own future entries in the Hypercar category.
The full driver line-ups of each team are still to be confirmed, with the WEC calendar due to begin at Sebring in March.
But in the immediate term, the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place and F1 World Champion Max Verstappen has been announced as one of the entrants in the sim race.
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