JB not happy with Fuji date change for Alonso

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There are certainly many sides to the decision to change the date of the World Endurance Championship race in Fuji Japan in order to accommodate Fernando Alonso’s schedule. The Formula 1 series will be racing in the US on the previous date of the Fuji WEC race but that race has now been moved up a week so that Alonso can participate.

The race will now clash with other series and WEC driver commitments in IMSA and Super GT. While I’ve read comments from WEC drivers on social media, former F1 driver Jenson Button also voiced his thoughts on the date change via Twitter.

“It’s a shame that a race is changed for one driver when the change hurts so many other drivers who have contracts in place.

“But also other categories like IMSA and Super GT where a clash will hurt their fan base.”

The WEC is facing its own viewership issues and the LMP1 category is challenged by the departure of other big manufacturers such as Audi and Porsche. It needs all the marketing help it can get and it has seen the Alonso impact on both Indycar and the IMSA race at Daytona. Making room for Alonso has a knock-on effect but I doubt the WEC is too concerned about IMSA or Super GT at the moment when self-preservation is the rule of law with waning TV audiences across the board for all sports.

Is it the right move? Well, if they want Alonso to compete in the full schedule then it is. Is it fair to other drivers and series? Depends on whose asking, doesn’t it? The FIA have put a real effort in scheduling to try and avoid clashes with F1 and WEC but this one race was the exception. They re-doubled their efforts when F1 clashed with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and since then, they’ve done a decent job of it, Fuji notwithstanding.

What do you think? Right decision or should WEC be more sensitive to other drivers and series?

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Tom Firth

So I’ve fought with my feelings around this for a couple of days and honestly I see both arguments. On one hand commercially WEC had to do this, Toyota is the only factory not to leave LMP1, they want the team star signing at Fuji in front of the Toyota top brass and will have lobbied the ACO to ensure this one date issue would be resolved. On the other hand, it is a bit of a slap in the face to some of the long term competitors of WEC. You could argue well if you want to run Petit… Read more »

Tom Firth

Haha, Well we’ve had this discussion many times before and I don’t think we are going to agree so lets not open that one again.

I do wish the ACO had paid more attention to privateers, they’ve come now but it’s a bit late. I will really miss the rest of the hybrid LMP1 cars though and look forward to Toyota Hybrids coronation year :-)

Tom Firth

That’s absolutely fine :-) With regards fixing it, in fairness the slight PR blunder around scheduling for Alonso, the calendar layout which I personally dislike and a lot more questions than answers about longer term aside, they’ve done a decent job of steadying the ship before start to rebuild after 2020. At the end of the day, even in this weaker transitional state, they’ve managed to get a 36 car full season entry and Le Mans remains a full 60 car grid so a lot of hope and potential remains for FIA WEC, even if it is not in the… Read more »

Tom Firth

Anyway what made you think a marriage between the ACO and the FIA was ever going to be a stable happy long term marriage without any rough patches along the way? ;-)

jakobusvdl

Well considered response Tom, there seem to be a pretty even set of pro’s and con’s.
Hopefully the fall out isn’t too serious for the other series, and that WEC gets some good coverage out of this.

meine

Sour grapes because he cannot generate the interest Alonso can.

meine

By the way, in my opinion, Le Mans will never be long-term as popular with big manufacturers as, say, Formula 1 or E, because it is not very casual viewer-friendly. Just too long.

And who cares about the other events accept the teams and some specialized viewers (i.e. racing fans)?