The FIA World Endurance Championship is set to move the 6 Hours of Spa one week forward in order to prevent a clash with the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
Series boss Gerard Neveu told Sportscar365 that the penultimate round of the 2019-20 season will now likely take place on April 23-25 instead of the originally announced May 3-5, in an effort to prevent one of three clashes between the WEC and the all-electric open-wheel championship.
“It will be officially announced but I’ve already sent a copy to the FIA. We are finalizing the contract with Spa,” Neveu told Sportscar365.
Neveu said the date change, which also avoids a clash with the expected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Mid-Ohio, was made in good faith to Formula E, which released its 2019-20 schedule last month with races on three WEC weekends.
It came after the release of the WEC’s 2019-20 calendar last August, which was finalized in May with confirmation of the 1000 Miles of Sebring return.
Neveu said he was “surprised” by the clashes, with the two championships previously holding a gentleman’s agreement to not race on the same weekend due to the number of drivers and support personnel that are involved in both series.
“I have a very good relationship with [Formula E chairman] Alejandro Agag, so we always discuss and he never mentioned any problem [with clashes],” Neveu said.
“We confirmed Sebring when we were in Spa because we were waiting on the confirmation from Scott [Atherton, IMSA President]. It was the last [event] we were waiting on.
“In May, we published the calendar again saying it was the definitive calendar.
“During Le Mans, just after the World Council, we discovered Formula E’s calendar that nobody saw before, with three potential clashes.
“We were very surprised. Apparently a few people from the FIA were surprised. What I’m surprised is that they made the vote in the World Council and were surprised after.”
Neveu said he hopes the two other clashes can be avoided but it currently rests with Formula E.
“There are some things we can do and some things we can’t do,” he said.
“For sure we can’t change the Sebring date as we are being hosted by the American people. We respect this very established event.
“In December, I have no plans to race during Christmas, so I can’t see how we can move the [Bahrain] date.”
Neveu said he’s yet to receive word from Formula E whether its two TBA dates, currently scheduled for the Bahrain and Sebring WEC weekends, will be moved.
Sportscar365’s sister site, e-racing365 understood that an initiative was underway, although it’s believed to now be a bit more unclear.
“The FIA asked we send a final version of the calendars,” Neveu said. “I have sent mine, and now two weeks later, we’re still waiting for the copy from Formula E.
“We have nothing. It looks like [Formula E] will not avoid the clash with Sebring and it looks like they are thinking to reinstall a race in December.
“What can I do? Nothing, except to say I’m surprised and very sad.
“My problem is not to race the same weekend as Formula E. Very frankly, my problem is we have drivers, engineers and team managers sharing the same [paddocks].
“It makes it impossible for them to do it. That’s the only problem.”