Le Mans 2022: Which ex-F1 drivers are tackling the iconic endurance race?

We've recently had the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500, now it's the turn of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as motorsport's Triple Crown comes to an end at the weekend.

Former Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson had the opportunity to kiss the bricks and drink a well-earned bottle of milk in the traditional post-race celebrations after winning at Indy 500, and the Le Mans field is also awash with ex-F1 talent to look out for this weekend.

A dozen drivers in total have raced in Formula 1 before, Planet Sport takes a close look at them:

(* denotes current F1 reserve driver)

Hypercars:

Kamui Kobayashi (#7 Toyota)

Ah, Kamui. He was definitely a fan favourite in his time in the sport, particularly in his Sauber days, with the sheer joy of his solitary podium at his home race at Suzuka in 2012 putting tears in many a glass eye.

He won the World Endurance Championship title in 2019/20 and, after three P2 finishes at Le Mans, finally clinched the big one alongside Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez last year.

Kobayashi also took over as Toyota's WEC team principal at the end of 2021, so he'll be defending his crown alongside his team-mates, who are now also his employees.

Sébastien Buemi (#8 Toyota)

Buemi will partner Hartley at Toyota this year along with Japan's Ryo Hirakawa, and the Swiss driver's three seasons in Formula 1 brought only modest success in a lower-midfield Toro Rosso from 2009 to 2011.

Like Hartley, his exploits elsewhere have shown his quality though. Buemi has since become a three-time Le Mans winner, two-time World Endurance champion (with 20 race wins) and Formula E title winner. Not too shabby.

Brendon Hartley (#8 Toyota)

Going up against Kobayashi in the sister Toyota will be former Toro Rosso man Brendon Hartley. He took three points finishes in the 2018 F1 season, after taking part in the final four races of the previous year.

That would prove to be his only time in Formula 1, but his success in endurance racing has been clear to see - two WEC titles and being a two-time Le Mans winner, and twice a runner-up, is proof of that.

LMP2:

Felipe Nasr (#5 Team Penske)

Two seasons with Sauber in 2015 and 2016 was Nasr's time in Formula 1, and made an excellent debut by taking a top-five finish in his first grand prix start.

Unfortunately for him, that would be the highest he would place in a race in F1, but he has since gone on to have success elsewhere - with two IMSA SportsCar Championship titles now on his CV, including last year's championship, and has his third tilt at Le Mans this weekend.

Robert Kubica* (#9 PREMA)

One of two Formula 1 race winners in the pack this weekend. Kubica is still Alfa Romeo's reserve driver, but moves away from backup duties in Azerbaijan to be involved in LMP2 this weekend.

He took part in two grands prix last season while filling in for Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa, but suffered heartbreak last year at Le Mans after his car ran out of fuel on the final lap of the day-long race while leading in LMP2. He'll certainly want to make amends this year.

Sébastien Bourdais (#10 Vector Sport)

Bourdais has had success across the motorsport spectrum, but is another driver to have not translated that into Formula 1.

His season-and-a-half at Toro Rosso saw him not live up to expectations, but his history at the Circuit de la Sarthe is a long one.

Bourdais' first Le Mans came all the way back in 1999, unfortunately recording a DNF that year, but he has since won the race in the LMGTE Pro class, back in 2016.

Esteban Gutiérrez (#34 Inter Europol)

Former Sauber and Haas driver Gutiérrez is making his Le Mans debut this weekend, having not done an awful lot of racing in the past few years while undertaking reserve/test duties for Mercedes in both Formula 1 and Formula E, before starting his WEC career earlier this year.

The Mexican drove for three seasons in Formula 1 in the mid-2010s, but recorded a solitary points finish in that time - taking P7 in Japan in 2013.

Will Stevens (#38 Jota)

Stevens never really had much of an opportunity to show his true skills in Formula 1, competing in 2014 and 2015 in a Manor car that rarely troubled Q2, let along the points places.

This weekend will see Stevens take part in his seventh Le Mans 24 Hours. Having been a part of the winning team in the GTE Am class in 2017, he comes into this year off the back of taking third in LMP2 in 2021.

Pietro Fittipaldi* (#43 Inter Europol)

Okay, it's unfair to call Fittipaldi a 'former' F1 driver (hence the asterisk), as he still serves as reserve driver at Haas and has two race starts to his name - filling in for Romain Grosjean after his horror crash in Bahrain towards the end of 2020.

He's competed in two European Le Mans Series races so far this season, but this is his first attempt at the 24 Hours. Best of luck to him.

Jack Aitken* (#47 Algarve Pro Racing)

Jack Aitken practices at Le Mans. June 2022.

Like Fittipaldi, Aitken was also drafted in for a Formula 1 drive towards the end of 2020. The Williams reserve came in for George Russell at the Sakhir Grand Prix, when the now-Mercedes driver took on Lewis Hamilton's seat after he tested positive for Covid-19.

That race was Aitken's only Formula 1 start to date, and he managed to get within a tenth of Nicholas Latifi's qualifying time on the Saturday - but limped home P16 after a spin at the final corner during the race.

Aitken is also taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time.

LMGTE Pro:

Gianmaria Bruni (#91 Porsche)

Bruni took part in the 2004 season for Minardi in Formula 1, in what was unfortunately the back-marking car in the field by a quite considerable distance at the time.

His success has come later in sports cars though, winning two World Endurance titles in the LMGTE Pro class in 2013 and 2014, as well as three class victories at Le Mans in the past (2008, 2012 and 2014).

Coming into his 14th Le Mans weekend, he's one of the more experienced heads in the field.

LMGTE Am:

Giancarlo Fisichella (#80 Iron Lynx)

Our other Formula 1 race winner on this list and the person to round it off is Fisi, who is also comfortably the most experienced F1 driver in this list.

Three race victories and 19 podiums came in his 229 race starts, and the 49-year-old Italian is taking part in his 13th Le Mans weekend, taking victory in class twice in that time.

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