In recent years, we have seen a couple of rather controversial clashes within the FIA world championships which have irritated fans and media alike. The most notable of these was, of course, the clash between the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the new Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku. An issue which many fans saw as an intentional clash to block F1 drivers replicating the success of Nico Hulkenberg and following him to compete at Le Mans.
Whether it was intentional or not is a matter of debate but it was clear that it upset fans and seemingly ended the previous ‘Gentlemens agreement’ which was apparently in place between the FIA WEC, the ACO, F1 and the FIA since the commencement of the World Endurance Championship. An agreement which was designed to avoid such a clash. The effect was that drivers including Fernando Alonso who was rumoured to be mounting a potential run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans were not able to do so because a clash now occurred and that is a crying shame for fans of the sport as a whole.
The other clash which was apparent in the media in recent years involving FIA championships was a disagreement between Formula E and the FIA WEC, with both sides making a case for why the other should move their event as a number of drivers competed in both series. It was eventually resolved but again, it upset the respective championship bosses and built upon the requirement for the FIA to eventually take action on this.
It appears that action is now being taken: The FIA President Jean Todt, met with Formula One’s Director of Motorsports; Ross Brawn, FIA WEC CEO; Gerard Neveu and Formula E’s CEO; Alejandro Agag in Monaco this weekend to attempt to collaborate towards an agreement for greater harmonisation of the calendars of these three respective series in future seasons.
Jean Todt had this to say;
“In close collaboration with its Promoters, the FIA has in recent years worked hard to build and consolidate a wide variety of championships that provide great entertainment for motor sport fans,” said Mr Todt.
“As such, it is important that everyone involved in our championships works towards ensuring that fans have every opportunity to enjoy our championships to the full.
“Today, in collaboration with our partners, we have begun the process of harmonising our sporting calendars and I look forward to continuing this effort as we define our championship schedules for next season and beyond.”
We’ve also seen a similar story of harmonisation efforts in recent weeks between Formula One and MotoGP. I don’t expect to see every clash eliminated as a result of these talks. That is unrealistic as we do have a finite number of weekends a year in which racing can occur and a huge amount of fairly high profile racing series around the world. I do think in the particular cases mentioned above and in similar cases then harmonisation should be reached for the good of the fans of the sport.
Just a note of caution though; We should be sensible with harmonisation of Motorsport calendars beyond these type cases; For instance this weekend, some have called for the Monaco Grand Prix to be moved to allow for active F1 drivers to compete at the Indianapolis 500 more easily. I think we need to really look at how many drivers actually have that real interest within the F1 paddock before we pursue something like that.
If a real huge interest exists then maybe it should be considered but for now, whilst it has been great to see Fernando compete at Indianapolis. I don’t think we should end the current schedule of having Monaco, Indy and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day as these three events being positioned on the same day is in itself an ‘event’ for many fans within the motor racing calendar. This involves cross promotion by television, is enjoyed by fans across the world as no TV clashes exist between the three despite being positioned on the same day and is probably the only chance that quite a few fans have to sit and watch one of the other series on television on that specific day. That is perhaps actually better for the sport than pure date harmonisation between these three events.