By any standards the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship season was a good one for the crew of the no8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050-Hybrid of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
Not only did they win five of the eight races to secure the world title for both themselves and for Toyota, they won twice at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also the first WEC 1000-mile race at the legendary Sebring International Circuit in Florida.
The only blot was winning the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, only to lose the win when both Toyotas were disqualified for an issue concerning the deflection of the skid blockin post race scrutineering. However the loss of 25 points didn’t dent their charge to the title, with Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima finishing the year on 198 points, 41 points ahead of their teammates in the no7 Toyota.
With the new season approaching we caught up with Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima to talk the development of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, his new teammate Brendon Hartley and the upcoming eighth season of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“The main change on the car for the new season is the aero. I haven’t had much time in the car yet, with all my racing in Japan I haven’t had the opportunity to test. So my first opportunity was at The Prologue in Barcelona. It’s not a brand new car, it’s an evolution of last year’s car, but it is always nice to drive a new car.
“Barcelona is not a track we race at so the two day test is all about gathering the data and getting used to the car, again. It hasn’t been too long since Le Mans, but we ran tests on our high downforce package and set up of the car. The test was also a good opportunity to introduce the new driver in our team.
“It is quite interesting having Brendon with us. He was already with us at Le Mans where he was putting a lot of ideas forward and giving information about setting up the car. His experience with Porsche is very interesting. We were wondering what they were doing when we raced against them and he has been very open; a nice guy. I am very happy to have him as a teammate.
“Looking at the new calendar, Brazil will be something different for me as last time the WEC raced there I was not there. So it will be my first time at Interlagos since 2009 when I did F1 there. So that race is going to be something special for me to go back to Brazil. I am sure it won’t be easy as it is very physical and with the traffic management, but I am looking forward to going back there.
“Going into the new season as world champion doesn’t really mean much. It’s a very nice title to have but now we have a new season. We are only one of the challengers again to take the title and to win Le Mans. ”
The 4 Hours of Silverstone is Round 1 of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season which takes place in the UK from Friday 30 August until Sunday 1 September.