Hirakawa will develop into a part of McLaren’s driver growth programme, supporting the Woking group in its simulator in addition to conducting a testing programme with its 2021 MCL35M automotive.
The 29-year-old will dovetail his F1 testing position together with his present drive for Toyota, with which he’s presently main the Hypercar class within the World Endurance Championship.
Hirakawa and his team-mates Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley are the reigning champions too, having gained each the general title and the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2022.
“I’m completely satisfied to have joined the McLaren F1 group as a reserve driver,” Hirakawa stated within the margin of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
“It’s an thrilling prospect to work with such a revered group and I’m grateful to Zak [Brown] and Andrea [Stella] for the chance.
“I’ve already met the group and skilled the simulator at MTC which has allowed me to hit the bottom operating. I’m now totally ready and centered for the rest of 2023.
“I’m grateful to [Toyota Gazoo Racing] for permitting me to function a driver for the 2 groups. The second thanks goes to Morizo-san [Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda], who has supported me as a driver.”
Ryo Hirakawa, ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL
Photograph by: Masahide Kamio
Workforce principal Stella added: “I’m happy to welcome Ryo to McLaren Racing as a Formulation 1 reserve driver to additional strengthen our rising help driver pool.
“We’re grateful to Toyota Gazoo Racing for his or her collaboration by permitting Ryo to tackle the brand new position alongside his driving duties. He has a powerful report on monitor successful Le Mans in addition to the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“We stay up for working carefully with Ryo who has already hung out on the simulator at MTC. His wealth of expertise will profit the group in quite a lot of areas as he joins our robust secure of drivers.”
Although a left-field appointment, Hirakawa has single-seater expertise as effectively, as he presently races in Japan’s Tremendous Formulation championship. He was runner-up within the collection in 2020.
The Toyota protege additionally beforehand raced in SUPER GT, taking the crown for its luxurious model Lexus in 2017. He’s additionally a former champion of Japan’s F3 championship.
McLaren presently has an settlement to share Aston Martin’s reserve drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Felipe Drugovich.
It beforehand additionally had two-time IndyCar champion Alex Palou on its books earlier than his deal to hitch its IndyCar arm from Chip Ganassi Racing collapsed. It’s as an alternative engaged on including its present IndyCar star Pato O’Ward to its F1 reserve pool for 2024, pending the Mexican buying a superlicence.