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Toyota to Give Buemi “Fair Consideration” to Skip Sebring

Sebastien Buemi could miss 1000 Miles of Sebring for Formula E race in Sanya…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing will give consideration to Sebastien Buemi to potentially skip the 1000 Miles of Sebring in favor of his ABB FIA Formula E commitments that same weekend.

The defending FIA World Endurance Champion is one of several drivers facing conflicting race plans on the mid-March weekend, which sees the Formula E race in Sanya.

While co-driver Brendon Hartley has confirmed he will prioritize his Toyota drive, Buemi told Sportscar365 that his status for the sixth round of the 2019-20 WEC season is “still under discussion”.

A Toyota spokesperson said they would give “fair consideration” to Buemi should he make the request, although a decision is not expected to be made until very close to the race.

The Swiss driver currently has no points on the board in Formula E following last month’s season-opening double-header in Diriyah.

Three additional Formula E races are scheduled to run prior to the clashing weekend, while the Circuit of The Americas round of the WEC also precedes Sebring.

According to Toyota team director Rob Leupen, Buemi’s championship position could play a factor.

“We will not block people,” Leupen told Sportscar365. “If he had no chance in the championship, we might consider it, but this is not a discussion.

“If you do a bit of prediction you can say that car No. 8 should be in a position to win the world championship at Le Mans, based on how the [Success Handicap] is. You would go into that direction.

“Unless we see a very dominant car coming up and they go more or less in the same performance window as we should be, then we will see what is happening.

“I don’t think that the championship is decided, definitely not.”

While declining to go into detail, Buemi admitted upcoming results in both series will “obviously” help decision the decision, which could be made “quite late”.

“I cannot make the call only by myself,” Buemi said. “It depends a lot on the team. It’s an ongoing discussion.”

Both Leupen and Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon confirmed to Sportscar365 that if the decision is made to skip the race, they would replace Buemi in the lineup and not opt for a two-driver squad in the No. 8 car.

“No, not Sebring,” Vasselon said when asked about going with a two-driver lineup. “Sebring is quite tough. With the bumps and drivers, the car is shaking.”

Toyota test and reserve driver Thomas Laurent would be the most likely driver called up to replace Buemi, which would have a domino effect as the Frenchman has a full-season LMP2 seat with Signatech Alpine.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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