The FIA World Endurance Championship is set to reduce its schedule to six rounds for 2021 while series CEO Gerard Neveu says there are several options being considered.
The evolving COVID-19 situation around the world and economic pressure on competitors is prompting the global series to scale back the schedule for its ninth season.
Neveu told Sportscar365 that the current expectation is to have six races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than the eight including Le Mans that has been customary in all WEC seasons apart from 2016 and 2017 when the schedule grew to nine events.
The 2021 season, which brings the series back to a single calendar year format after a pair of dual-year seasons, is set to mark the arrival of the new Le Mans Hypercar prototype formula.
“Of course we have to reduce the number [of races] because we have to take into consideration the economic and sanitary situations we have,” said Neveu.
“But in any case, it’s very early to speak about this because we need to have a minimum of visibility and knowledge about where we can and cannot go.
“Next year it will be a reduced calendar comparing with the last seasons we have had.
“As we have already said, the season should start in March and finish in November. As for the question of the number of races, we know that this is around five plus Le Mans. This is the expectation.”
FIA President Jean Todt and ACO President Pierre Fillon also acknowledged during last weekend’s Total 6 Hours of Spa that a six-round calendar is currently expected.
Fillon said that “we have to reduce the costs for everybody” in the championship, which involves a mixture of factory teams, privateer squads and paying drivers.
Neveu, meanwhile, explained that the WEC is working to build several contingency plans in case its initial schedule options become untenable.
“We have a clear vision, but the only thing is that this is the plan A,” he said.
“But in any case, we must be ready to have a plan B or plan C, depending on what’s going on. That’s exactly what we are doing now and we are working on the different situations.
“Three weeks ago in Belgium, everything was fine, and since one week there are travel problems between the UK and Belgium, and since one day [of the WEC race last Saturday] there are problems between the UK and France.
“We have a plan A, B and C, and we will propose a plan A around Le Mans. After that, we will have to be ready to move or adjust depending on the situation.”
When asked about how firm the WEC’s plans are to begin the 2021 season at Sebring next March, Neveu admitted that it’s “very difficult to say” due to the uncertainty over how the United States’ COVID-19 situation might develop over the winter.
The U.S is currently the worst-affected country in terms of total coronavirus case numbers.
The WEC was supposed to hold a race at Sebring on the same weekend as the IMSA Mobil 1 Twelve Hours earlier this year, but the event was canceled because of travel restrictions.
“If you ask today if we can organize a race there, the answer is no,” said Neveu.
“But March 2021 is in seven months. We are following the situation should we [need to] evaluate, but if not, that’s the hope.
“So we have to do a pre-calendar and we will adjust the calendar depending on the evolution of the situation.”