Problems arose though, in the wake of the confirmed signing by Toyota Gazoo Racing of double F1 World Champion and 2018 McLaren F1 driver Fernando Alonso. Toyota owns the Fuji circuit, WEC viewership has been struggling, and Alonso already proved previous year, when he went to the Indy 500, that his mere presence at another racing series could lead to a huge surge in fans and viewership (and thus, money).
"Fernando is effectively restricted to just driving the [Toyota] race auto", Brown stated.
Following confirmation that Alonso will be racing for Toyota at all WEC rounds that don't clash with his F1 commitments, it emerged that Fuji had requested a change of date.
"So as far as commercial appearances, sponsor commitments, things of that nature, it's very minimised".
Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi, a teammate of Alonso's at Toyota, added at Friday's launch of the WEC in Paris: "We're in a transition year and I think it's a big advantage to have Fernando because it will get people talking about the WEC".
His participation with Toyota is to be minimal: McLaren, for whom he races full-time in Formula One, says he will not be joining sponsorship or promotional events for the Japanese brand.
"We came to an arrangement with Toyota and that is to allow him to race the vehicle but not to travel the globe having commercial commitments".
He not only completed 113 laps in Bahrain for the FIA WEC, the McLaren man also finished 13th in the class of the Dayonta 24 Hours race in Motorland Aragon in Spain. Toyota don't really have many sponsors on there so there aren't any sitting there today that are in conflict with McLaren, but if they do find a partner that's conflicting with McLaren we couldn't have Fernando walking around in competing sponsor attire.
"I think what would he be doing those weekends otherwise?"
"He's a McLaren driver first and foremost and a Formula 1 driver".
"He wouldn't be testing in a Formula 1 vehicle, he wouldn't be here on a simulator, there's only so much he can do". There is only so much he can do. "I definitely don't think it's any other agenda than he just wants to race and he wants to win Le Mans".
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