Anthony Davidson has said that he did not step aside to make room for Fernando Alonso in the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car for the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship superseason.
Despite winning five races alongside Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in 2017, the former Minardi, BAR Honda and Super Aguri Formula 1 driver saw his seat sacrificed to make way for the cross-competing Alonso, as the Spaniard looks to complete the second part of his Triple Crown bid. For 2018, the 39-year-old has moved into a reserve role with Toyota.
“It was completely the team’s decision to move me in to the reserve driver role,” Davidson told The Checkered Flag. “It was not my decision not to race, it was the team’s.
“I was told it was me that had to step aside for Fernando, so I have to respect the team. It is a shame, however, that’s the way motorsport is sometimes.”
Davidson, who won the 2014 championship with the Japanese marque, said that he understood that the decision was a tough choice to make given the calibre of drivers the team has managed to attract following Audi Sport and Porsche‘s withdrawal of their LMP1 programmes at the end of 2016 and ’17 respectively.
He noted that the feeling was that Alonso “had to be” at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this week and admitted that due to the double F1 champion’s talent and reputation, the decision was easier to accept.
“It was a tough decision for the team, all six drivers were performing well so it was never going to be an easy decision to move one of their top drivers aside,” he added.
“It’s a strange situation. Basically, Fernando had to be here, and he had to take one of our drives. It’s as simple as that. It’s unlucky that it was me but that’s just life. Fernando had limited options once Audi and Porsche both dropped out of the series so there was only one team to go for and it was this team.
“If you were going to step aside for anyone in the world, then Fernando is not a bad driver to step aside for so that makes it a bit easier. If it was Joe Bloggs, then I would be annoyed. It is like the world wants him to win Le Mans this year.”
Davidson will return to racing after Le Mans – he joins Pastor Maldonado and Roberto González in DragonSpeed‘s ORECA-Gibson 07 LMP2 car for the rest of the season, starting with a home event at the Silverstone International Circuit in August. He remains satisfied with his 2017 form and said that he could not have put in a better showing.
“I know I was performing at my best and I am proud of what I achieved last year.
“As I said, I won five races and in particular, the last two were very good for me. I couldn’t have given any more.”