The FIA World Endurance Championship has a ‘Plan B’ in place should it be forced to cancel next year’s 1000 Miles of Sebring due to COVID-19, according to series boss Gerard Neveu, who has stressed they will do their “maximum” to maintain the ‘Super Sebring’ event.
Released in the provisional 2021 WEC calendar last week, both the pre-season test and season-opening round are currently scheduled at the Florida airfield circuit, after being forced to call off this year’s race due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
While currently the plan to hold the race on March 19, in conjunction with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring the following day, Neveu said it will depend on the rate of COVID-19 infections and travel restrictions in the U.S. at that time.
“The work that the ACO is trying to develop with IMSA is perfectly illustrated through the Twelve Hours of Sebring and the 1000 Miles of Sebring,” he said. “This is probably the only place where we can race with the two championships on the same weekend.
“That’s the reason why after discussing with John [Doonan, IMSA President] and the people with IMSA, we will do our maximum to maintain the event. And then we will see.
“It is impossible to say in seven months how the situation will be. We don’t know how it will be in three months. If it’s possible, we will try to do it for sure.”
Neveu said they already have an alternative venue in place to replace Sebring if needed, although he declined to go into further detail.
“I cannot tell you the place but it will be in Europe, two weeks later in between March and April,” he said. “That’s in case there is a travel ban or there is too much restrictions to travel in March, because we have no idea exactly.”
Sportscar365 understands that discussions had taken place for a possible WEC round in Portimao, although it’s unclear if the Portuguese circuit could be used as a replacement round if needed.
Paul Ricard, which has previously served as the venue for the championship’s pre-season test, has also been suggested given its recent use as a replacement for the canceled European Le Mans Seres round in Barcelona.
Current Conditions Made it “Necessary” for Reduced Six-Round Season
Neveu said a reduction from eight to six rounds for 2021 was made as a budget-conscious decision and has been agreed upon by teams.
Both Silverstone and Kyalami will not feature on next year’s schedule, when compared to the initial 2020-21 calendar that was released last December, prior to the pandemic and shift back to a calendar year format.
“The calendar is always to reflect the real situation,” Neveu said. “It was necessary to reduce the number of races due to the situation.
“It makes sense for everybody. It was important to try to respect a certain balance between the overseas events and European events, and to help teams save money.
“We have partners and main actors in the paddock, so it was important to try to make them happy.”
Monza, which was slated to host a WEC round for the first time this year, has been confirmed for 2021.
“This is probably a good place to start the season after Le Mans,” Neveu said. “It’s always challenging when you have to organize a race after Le Mans, which is an iconic event.
“You have to find a very popular place that is challenging for the drivers, and Monza is the ideal place to do this.
“Then there is a break for the shipping. It makes sense to go to Japan because we are very close to the manufacturers. The fans also.
“Then after there we go to Bahrain which is a place which is perfect to organize a finale on the sporting side. We can organize the race in day and night and we have different options.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report