Nico Hülkenberg will become the first currently active Formula 1 driver in six years to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The German has announced a landmark deal to drive for the Porsche factory team, joining ex-F1 driver Mark Webber in an expanded three-car line-up at next year’s iconic endurance race.
The Force India driver will also drive at the preceding World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps to prepare for the event. The Belgian race sits between the Chinese and Spanish Grands Prix, while the headline race at La Sarthe takes place between the Canadian and Austrian Grands Prix.
“Porsche and Le Mans – this combination probably attracts every race driver,” Hülkenberg said.
“I’ve been a Porsche fan for a long time and have been watching their return to the LMP1 class closely. The desire grew to drive that car at Le Mans.
“I am very pleased the 2015 Formula 1 calendar allows for it and I’m grateful to my Force India Formula 1 team’s generosity to let me go for it.”
Porsche returned to endurance racing’s top tier this year, entering a pair of LMP1 919 Hybrid cars with former Grand Prix driver Mark Webber as part of its line-up.
“Having caught the interest of another world class driver like Nico is validation for the job the entire Porsche LMP1 crew had done in our first WEC season,” Porsche team principal Andreas Seidl added.
“Now we will prepare Nico for his new challenges such as dealing with the traffic of the slower GT cars and racing into the Le Mans night. We have got a road map in place which should enable him to exploit his driving abilities at his Le Mans debut.
“We’re looking forward to working with Nico and we want to thank the Sahara Force India F1 team and Team Principal Vijay Mallya for loaning him to us.”
The last driver to combine their Formula 1 activities with an outing at Le Mans was Toro Rosso driver Sébastien Bourdais, who finished second alongside Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazin in a Peugeot Sport 1-2 finish.
Images via XPB Images