The FIA World Endurance Championship could feature a reduced calendar with revised race formats next year, according to series boss Gerard Neveu, who has revealed that discussions are underway for an “evolution” to the globe-trotting championship.
Neveu said a number of options are on the table, including GTE qualifying races, longer and shorter main races, as well as a reduction to eight rounds, as part of cost-cutting initiatives ordered by the ACO.
“Do we continue with nine races or do we go to eight races or do we go to ten races?” Neveu asked. “Do we finish by a race in the Middle East or another place, or do we do a bigger race at the end?
“There are so many options. But that doesn’t say we’ll do exactly like that.”
Talk of a shakeup to the calendar has come amid questions over the future of the Mexico City round, which Neveu stressed will happen this year, despite some initial concerns.
He denied claims that the race would be first on the chopping block, should the championship be reduced to eight rounds next year.
Contracts with other circuits, such as Bahrain, are up at the end of this year, while Neveu confirmed a new three-year contract has been reached with Fuji Speedway that extends its deal with the Japanese circuit through the end of 2019.
“If you say tomorrow that if I reduce one race per year will help all the paddock, it would be good,” Neveu said. “When you take this sort of decision you have to take into consideration the different categories.
“The needs for LMP1 manufacturers or for GTE-Am is not the same, or LMP2 and GTE-Pro. You always have to find a compromise, which is very challenging.”
The possibility of longer and/or shorter races is also under evaluation, according to Neveu, who hinted at the potential of a lengthened season finale.
He said contracts with existing promoters are not tied specifically to the current six-hour race format, which has been utilized for every regular season race since 2013.
“We’re investigating, why not the idea to do a final longer race, or somewhere to do a shorter race at some other place,” Neveu said.
“It will depend on the place where we go. It will depend if we reduce one race or not.
“If you reduce one race to save costs and suddenly you do two longer races for 12 hours, you don’t save the money.
“Never forget, the first question and the first order from Pierre [Fillon, ACO President] is to find a way to reduce costs.”
Despite the discussions, Neveu stressed not to expect massive changes immediately, as they continue to monitor the global motorsport landscape.
“Don’t wait for a revolution next year,” he said. “Wait for an evolution because our idea is to always be aware of what’s going on all around us.
“If we [just] stay focused inside the paddock, we’re dead.”