Toyota gets a head start with its Hypercar this year, but in 2022 Peugeot will join it, and then Audi’s LMDh contender will emerge, followed in short order by one from Porsche. More manufacturers could well follow in both classes. Potentially, it’s a fantastic time for a young driver to be building a career in long-distance sports car racing – even if, for now, Hanson must be patient.
“The sport is in a strange place at the moment with Covid and the effect it’s having,” he says. “It has pushed back the new regulations for LMH and LMDh, so if that’s my future, it’s another year away.
“It does seem reasonable to stay in LMP2, because it’s the class with the most competition, which is growing year on year. It’s attracting drivers from everywhere, including F1 and DTM.
“We’re in the right place, and it’s the best proving ground to compare yourself with the best. If I can prove I’m at the top of it, I’ll be proving myself among the best in the world. That would highlight me for the manufacturers if and when they do come in [to LMH and LMDh].”
There’s a key transition that Hanson must now make. So far, his career has been bankrolled by his wealthy father – but at some point, he needs to be signed by a team purely on merit. To become a true professional, he needs to make his living as a racing driver.
“I definitely feel I’m on the manufacturers’ lists of drivers, it’s just a question of how high up and how confident they would be to put me at the top,” asserts Hanson, who is hungry for overall Le Mans wins and WEC titles. “Being young helps, but it gives you disadvantages at the same time. They have the prospect of a long career with you, but you don’t bring the same experience. It’s that trade-off. But I’m 21 and I’ve already raced at Le Mans four times, so when they do their homework and see my performances… I’m not just bringing youth.”