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?