Peugeot's hired three F1 drivers for its new Le Mans car

By daryl, 10 February 2021

Peugeot has unveiled the driver line-up for its new Le Mans hypercar programme. And it’s strong: three drivers with Formula One in their recent past, numerous class wins (and an outright victory) at the Le Mans 24 Hours, a WEC world championship and two Formula E titles, to name just a few etchings on their cumulative CV.

The drivers are Loic Duval (a Le Mans winner with Audi in 2013), Paul di Resta (59 F1 starts and an LMP2 winner at Le Mans), Mikkel Jensen (young blood but an LMP3 champion), Kevin Magnussen (118 F1 starts), Gustavo Menezes (an LMP2 champion) and Jean-Eric Vergne (58 F1 starts and a two-time Formula E champion). British driver James Rossiter is reserve.

How they’ll be apportioned out between Peugeot’s two cars hasn’t been confirmed, but 2021 is a development year. So we suspect a pair of three-driver teams will naturally form as they all test together in the coming months. Several know each other well already – especially those who’ve previously locked horns in Formula One – and all bar Magnussen have experience of the world’s most famous endurance race.

“The first time I go to Le Mans it’s going to be a steep learning curve, for sure, but I’m looking forward to that,” Magnussen tells Top Gear. “There’s going to be a lot of experience to draw from in the team and I’m excited to get to know these drivers a little better. Some of them I’ve raced against, some I’ve met, some I’ve not met. But I’m sure there’s going to be a lot to learn from these guys.”

Magnussen raced for Haas in F1 in 2020, accruing one point over the whole season. At the age of 28, is this him moving on from single-seaters and into a new phase of his career?

“If Mercedes came and asked if I wanted to drive – well, everyone would look at that very seriously. I’ve given Formula One a very fair shot, I’ve done my best to try and be successful in the sport. I have a trophy at home from an F1 race, which is something I was dreaming about as a kid. I feel like I gave it a good shot – I’ve done it and I feel like I’m ready to go and win some stuff again.”

The team around him has been very carefully assembled to try and make that happen. “We didn’t just take individual results into consideration,” says Olivier Jansonnie, WEC Technical Director at Peugeot Sport. “We also examined the speed, consistency and reliability of a long list of drivers because we are looking for a line-up that meshes together well, with an eclectic mix of upcoming youngsters and experienced campaigners with proven development skills, especially in the field of hybrid powertrains.”

Reckon Peugeot’s got a winning crew together?