WEC Moves race date to accommodate F1 star Fernando Alonso
McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Feb 2018   |  2:44 pm GMT  |  185 comments

When Fernando Alonso made his announcement recently that he would compete in the World Endurance Championship with Toyota as well as F1 with McLaren, there was a clash in the calendar.

Today the organisers of WEC removed the clash to accommodate Alonso.

The round in October at Fuji was scheduled for the same weekend as the US Grand Prix at Austin, but it has now been moved. That has introduced a clash with a round of the IMSA Petit Le Mans SportsCar Championship finale.

It is a sign of the pulling power of Alonso to the series that they have moved a date to work around the two time champion.

Fuji requested the date change. The track is owned by Toyota, for whom Alonso will be racing and it hosted F1 Grands Prix in the days when Toyota was competing. Suzuka is owned by its main rival, Honda.

Toyota has some clout as it is the only remaining manufacturer team running hybrid turbo engines in the LMP1 class after Audi and more recently Porsche pulled out.

The Japanese date was moved originally to avoid the Petit Le Mans clash, but after Alonso signed for Toyota WEC team, there was pressure to revert to the original date so the Japanese fans could see the Spaniard in action.

WEC has seen a real spike of interest since Alonso made his announcement – unlike Nico Hulkenberg in 2015, who only competed at Le Mans, Alonso is embracing the WEC series and audiences on track and on TV are expected to be boosted significantly as a result.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport this week former F1 driver Jean Alesi praised Alonso’s initiative and even said that he hopes more top line F1 drivers will follow the lead and compete outside F1.

“It’s great,” Alesi said. “Fernando is not only brave but is setting a good example. I hope that many others will copy him.”

Alonso is aiming to win the Triple Crown of Monaco GP, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 hours. He has won Monaco and competed at Indy last season.

Williams driver Lance Stroll competed at the Daytona 24 hours last month, finishing 15th.

All Photos: LAT Images

What do you think of WEC moving the date for an F1 driver? Leave your comment below

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1

Shows lack of respect for all those who are already participating.

If Alonso is so keen to join then let him miss F1 races.

Too much attention is given to Alonso…he has not achieved anything in his extra-curricular races as yet.

2

they only moved to accomadate alonso because they know that alonso brings a lot more attention than they normally get.

3

@ Shri…so he shouldn’t even try?

4

He should absolute try if that he is what Alonso wants to do.
That includes missing F1 races if dates clash.

5

@ Shri…you should really be more up to date…..

6

Well, he’s only had 2 so far.

7

I’m surprised that Alonso has such pulling power. He was a hit at Indy last year before the racing actually started, and no doubt bought a considerable audience to that race. My local station hadn’t been carrying Indy, and had no plans for the 500, but when Alonso signed up to race there we got that race. This year we have the entire Indy season.

Now WEC actually change a date to give him an extra race. With, I’m sure, a little nudging from Toyota. But still…

8

I have no problem with the WEC moving the race to accommodate a world champion driver, it will fill seats because people want to see the best. The Canadian GP should be moved to allow F1 drivers to race at Le Mans for the same reason, and there should be no conflict with the Indy 500 either.
For me the best drivers are capable of racing in different categories without compromise.

9
Clarks4WheelDrift

Just shows the benefit to WEC series, rather than benefit for Alonso.

This is great and will help motorsport overal, just as Alonso did in the Indy 500.

Nice to be complemented on bravery by someone like Alesi. I like how Alonso is throwing it back, like the drivers of yesteryear, such as Jim Clark giving it some in F1, non-championship races and touring cars like three wheeling it round corners in the Lotus Cortinas.

It would be cool, in a few years time, to be able to see Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel racing each other in other events, after dabbling in them before moving on from F1.

10

hamilton has other interests..

11

@ Clarkes4WD well said. Good comment. Should be more of it.

12

Drivers stuck in one series, such as F1, for life is abnormal. In 1973 you had Emerson Fittipaldi/Jackie Stewart in Ford Capris in the ETCC/BTCC versus Niki Lauda/Chris Amon/Jackie Ickx in BMW CSLs. Fangio won the Carerra
Panamericana, Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. Clark, Hill, Mario, Fittipaldi and Villeneuve have won the Indy 500. The Can-Am in 1971 had Hulme, Amon, Revson, Siffert, Stewart and Andretti. Drivers need variety for honing their skills.

Alonso is skewered for his age making him too old to win anymore in F1. Andretti and Prost were F1 champs at 38, Hill and Mansell were 39, Brabham was 40. Fangio won his first championship at 40 and his last at 46. Fagioli was 53 when he won the 1951 French GP.

Alonso still has plenty of time to achieve new heights.

13

Fangio didn’t win Le Mans, or the Mille Miglia.

14

the year is 2018.

15

Which means what? In 2018 older drivers are less fit than they were in the past? Hamilton and Vettel are on the downslope?

16

F1 was a different series back then though. The average age of the grid has been steadily going down since 1960. Alonso is the second oldest on the grid, likely the oldest next year after Kimi retires or is retired.

17
----------------------------------------------------------------------Nedyr

What about the guys who also race in the IMSA championship? They are going to have to lose a race from one series or the other, just so they can get Fernando on the grid at Fuji… Seems a little disrespectful to several drivers to me.

18

They have time to move it.

19

Alonso needs to decide if he is an F1 driver or not. I don’t care how good he is I’d tell him straight F1 or WEC not both. If McLaren keep pandering to Alonso they’ll get nowhere. The first season with Renault engines they need Alonso’s experience for development of the car and engine. Alonso is too mercuial for his own good.

21

…except how many eyeballs were laid on that orange Indycar last year? McLaren are going nowhere quickly in F1 (thanks largely in part to Honda these last three seasons) and this way they can claim some success with their driver. Alonso would probably have walked before now if this hadn’t been the case. It also sends a message to broader F1 that their driver can be competitive in another format, and is being held back by regulation.

22

@ Christopher Fox..maybe you should have a chat with McLaren, they can put you straight.

23

I wish Alonso all the best, but I’m afraid he is going to win none of the aspired championships. It has nothing to do with his talent, but character.

24

Interesting perspective Enoch… but there are a couple of multiple world champions on the grid that I would say have a worse character than Alonso, that hold so much sway their teams wouldn’t dare do anything to them despite their poor conduct on and off the track.

25

Bighaydo, struggling to understand who these mysterious multiple world champions might be? Can’t be Lewis, as we know from the mechanic swap and the team’s repeated hiring of Nico Rosberg that he doesn’t hold that kind of sway within Mercedes.

26

It’s truly incredible that an entire series would change an event date to accommodate one man!

Just what is the power behind the pull of Alonso?!

Don’t get me wrong, I was calling for Alonso to ‘spread his wings‘ to alternative series, i.e. Indycar and WEC, quite some time ago, in this hallowed forum; so he could demonstrate his “complete samurai package“.

But what the ʄµ©ç!?
Who are the backers of this guy? Some global collective with unusual control of the media et al.?!
Wow!

Anyways, I think it is a win-win scenario.
Win for the complete samurai to ‘be able to show his complete package off, outside of F1, where, for some reason, he can’t.
Win for WEC bringing cross-over fans to a series with some (small) competition, better than the hybrid/turbo era of F1 ,certainly.

Interesting Alonso again (like Indy) gets into a contending package, right away!

The best thing Alonso has going for him are his incredibly and apparently widely placed … advocates.

27

@ Dean Cassady…’the best thing Alonso has going for him is…..his driving and his will to win’.

28

alonso can best demonstrate his driving ability in f1, not wec. after all a team of 3 drivers take turn in the car.

29

Wouldnt have done it for Lewis…

31

You must hate it when those pesky Lewis fans make everything about their idol Sars……

32

Of course they would have! Are you serious?!? I remember an article around Indy last year, on the heightened interest because of Alonso’s involvement, and it made a point to mention that if Hamilton came the interest would be even greater.

Hamilton is a bigger worldwide motorsports star than Alonso. Silly to even suggest otherwise.

“He is an unbelievable driver. There isn’t a team in the pit lane that would not be interested in having Lewis drive for them, us included.

“If anyone got Lewis, it would be great for the team.”

Alonso’s boss just said that yesterday.

33

Richard, that’s a load. First off, the article I mentioned was penned by an American, one that isn’t blind to the facts of the motorsports world. I thought it was in the Indy 500’s in-house publication, and while there is a piece by them saying that if Hamilton came that it would be a “global sensation”, that wasn’t the article I was talking about. I’m trying to find it.

As for Hamilton saying that Indy drivers suck, he said nothing of the sort. He said that Fernando would be the best driver there, but that he would need to catch up to those with all the experience of oval racing. Of course his comments were torqued and taken out of context, which is par for the course with Hamilton.

Hamilton doesn’t have the stones? Give me a break! A silly statement.

34

Pure Brit hype tha HAM would have been more popular.
Alonso’s popularity firstly was due to his admitting Indy was difficult and the drivet’s skilled. He was humble.
Hamilton meanwhile was literally mocking both the drivers as unskilled and the race as easy.
I cannot think of another F1 driver present or past who would make such a statement. Classless to say the least.
Alonso was down to earth with the fans and media and it was obvious he was truly enjoying the experience. He was witty and quite charming and the fans took to him.
Hamilton doesn’t possess these characteristics and never will.
I’d say his chances of racing Indy are slim and none.
Firstly, it takes massive stones to run 230 mph surrounded by hard walls. Alonso has them, Ham not so much.
Secondly, Ham would have to back up his claim that Indy drivers suck by winning the race, which he most likely wouldn’t. He’d be eating crow for a long time.
But I truly hope he decides to give it a try. I think his notions about Indy drivers would change in a hurry.

35

My 2 bobs worth on the Alonso WEC thing is that it is a bit strange that a superstar of F1 is giving a leg up to a rival series. Never would have been allowed in the Bernie era.
WEC probably needs a bit of a boost I guess. Nice of Alonso to give them his time but
its a bit of a distraction from his main job.
Maybe mclaren are building bridges for a future that brings Toyota into F1 once the
new regs are made but we already saw with Honda thats a massive gamble.
Those cheap WEC tickets for silverstone may sell well now as you should get lots of Alonso time no matter what happens in the race as they generally limp the car back to the pits for 30mins of repair and then you’re back in the race.

36

The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many to invert an old Star Trek adage. It used to be said that the individual is not bigger than the sport so either that is wrong or F1 is no longer a ‘sport’!

37

To paraphrase a Tom Cruise Character (and this applies to all “sports” these days: “Show them the $$$ Money”

38

Fernando isn’t bigger than F1; he is bigger than WEC though.

39

What great news. A racer’s racer doing what he does best…..hope that he does well despite all those who regularly diss on him. Get in there Fernando.

40

Yeah, Fred’s a legend. Love him to death. Good luck mate.

41

Alonso is aiming to win the Triple Crown of Monaco GP, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 hours

I’m currently reading Damon Hill’s ‘Watching The Wheels’. He refers to his Fathers Triple Crown as the WDC, Indy 500 and Le Mans – not that it really matters either way I suppose, as Alonso is still in the running, but does anyone know what constitutes the TC for 100% definite?

42

The original of the “Triple Crown of Motorsport” (which is an unofficial motorsport achievement) is regarded as winning three of the most prestigious and destinct motor races in the world, them being:
The Indianapolis 500
The 24 Hours of Le Mans
The Monaco F1 Grand Prix.
Later some have come up with alternatives to this, aka exchanging the Monaco F1 race with the F1 WDC. Graham Hill will in any case still be the only driver to ever having completed this, so his son is still right. Though personally I prefer to stay with the old classic definition being winning the 3 spectacular races. ;o)
Only 6 other racing drivers have completed 2 of the classic race wins. And only Montoya is still active of these 6 and having a chance to win the triple if he signs up for the Le Mans. (Montoya though never won the F1 WDC, so wouldnt qualify if going with the alternative definition)

43

There is no official definition. It’s an unofficial title, and there only seems to be interest in right now because Alonso has got a bee in his bonnet about it. Nobody’s given it a serious go for years now, and nobody thinks the one driver who has achieved it is an all time great. Very good, yes, but great in the way that Clark or Schumacher or Senna were, no.

44

You’re correct about Graham Hill not being regarded as an all-time great. Certainly nowhere near Clark.

45

It’s a funny old world – Graham Hill not being regarded as an all time great. Yet he’s the only driver to hold the Triple Crown and he also won Monaco 5 times. When you think about it, he can’t have been too shabby 🙂

46

If you read contemporaneous reports of Graham Hill’s Le Mans victory, the ‘triple crown’ was veiwed as being the F1 WDC, Le Mans and Indy. It was only referred to in passing, however. The current interest in it looks more like a diversionary technique on Alonso’s part.

47

but does anyone know what constitutes the TC for 100% definite?

There’s no official definition of it. It’s just something Alonso picked up on that Graham Hill managed and wants to emulate. Maybe if he manages it, then it will become accepted as some kind of standard definition and we might see more drivers aiming for it in the future. I really don’t see how, right now, it can be worthy of a name as only one driver has achieved it and until now, at least as far as I know, nobody else has ever attempted it.

48

For some it could actually be WDC/WEC/NASCAR — not all in the same year, of course. Indy/Le Mans/Monaco might be considered the Relevant Jewels But of course then there’d be debate about the British GP/Hockenheim/Spa and so on and so forth. . . 🙂 Let the debate(s) begin !

49

In Australia the Triple Crown relates to 3 y.o horseracing.
The Randwick Guineas. The Rosehill Guineas & The Australian Derby.
Hope this helps mate 😉
Personally, I would think the F1 TC did not include Monaco. WDC definitely, Monaco nah…

50

LOL – thanks for that. In the UK the TC consists of beating all the home nations in the six nations rugby championship.

51

I see the TC as a somewhat abstract construct. It is whatever anyone needs it to be.

52

I don’t think there’s anything definitive, I always looked at it as the Monaco GP not the WDC. If JPM won Le Mans I think he’d qualify even without a WDC.

53

On the one hand, I would imagine the DH would know the qualifying criteria for the TC that his late father is the holder of. But, on the other, it does seem rather odd to have it consist of 2 races and and a championship – 3 races seems to make more sense.
I guess , as others have noted, you can call it what you want .

54

Yes for sure. It’s the 3 races. A class victory in Le Mans wouldn’t count; it has to be an overall win.

55

What if (bigest if of my life) Mc’Laren win the Australian gp will he continue for WEC?

56

he might, to become the first driver in the history of motorsport to win two championships simultaneously.

57

It will be interesting to see how he cops with two series in a year. Good luck to him.

58

Based on the excitement and interest I saw at Indy, it makes sense from a marketing and ticket sales standpoint. This year, with a (hopefully) more competitive car, it will be interesting to see if the aging star still has his diving chops intact. I think he’ll have some success and a lot of fun. It will be nice to see more F1 crossover into the other race disciplines.

59
Tornillo Amarillo

The track is owned by Toyota, for whom Alonso will be racing…

Yeah, not big deal really, eh? Toyota the only team with possibilities. Stroll better at Daytona 24 h.

I think Norris with this is closer to a 2019 drive at McLaren.

60

good luck fernando..I may start catching wec this year instead of f1…need to find though where it shows up on tv in mainland america 🙂

61

This link should be helpful: http://www.tvracer.com/

62

Watching Alonso in Indy 500 was exhilarating. That being said, in general I am against drivers competing simultaneously in other championships. One-off events like Le Mans have always been an option but this WEC thing could get out of hand if it becomes a trend. Just imagine how odd it would be if Ronaldo or Messi were being granted the opportunity to appear in the FA Cup for Man United and Man City say.

F1 ought to have sufficient allure to exclusively retain its stars. (Of course, it hasn’t since half of the races are bore fests.)
Alonso having that much leverage is a bit disconcerting too.
However, IF this should happen with more drivers and one were to allow it then the best option is not to negotiate but return to a format where e.g. a driver’s worst 3 results do not count. I’m in favour of that anyway, would eliminate some of the impact engine failures can have on the WDC outcome (Hamilton Maleysia).

63

Yet when I started following F1, this is exactly how it was. Jackie Stewart was racing in touring cars for Ford. Ickx, Hailwood, Regazzoni, Cevert and several others were in WSC (or whatever it was called then). Revson and Andretti would do the 500. Niki Lauda had raced the Sunshine Series in South Africa for March-BMW.

64

You’re wrong. Le Mans, over the last 30 odd years, has been run on the same weekend as the Canafian GP.

It was designed this way by Bernie who did not want F1 drivers to compete at one of the most famous races in the world.

Your answer also reveals a newcomer to the sport. Having F1 drivers compete in other championships was a fundamental part of the sports history – sadly lost since the mid 80’s.

But I appreciate that most new fans ( i.e. The last 10-15 years) believe F1 only started in the 21st century.

65

did you ask those new fans or are you hallucinating?

66

Le Mans on the same weekend as the Canadian GP?? This is wrong, or do you mean the majority of the last 30 years? The Canadian GP has usually been in the 2nd week of June, while Le Mans was in the 3rd week (i.e. the weekend closest to the longest day of the year).

Bernie did cause scheduling conflicts, until the FIA made it so that Le Mans would have pride of place on the calendar, a few years back now.

67

@Hero,
You’re partly right. I’m no newcomer though, I’m a revenant. Used to be a fan in the 60s and 70s, having desperate luck with my favourites – Bandini, then Clark (both killed), later Lauda (burnt).
Then lost touch for just about the decades you mention. Not completely of course, but for a large part. Liked Hakkinen, totally disgusted with Schumacher who kept winning unfortunately.
My interest was never very technical (engines, tyres and the like), rather more racing- and driver-related.
That’s beginning to change since I came across JaonF1.

68

I hardly think watching since the mid 80s counts as being a “newcomer”.

69

Poor decision for the presumably several drivers who are going to be put-out by the new clash created.

70

Hats off to WEC for being really smart and seeing the opportunity to get more coverage, interest and attendance. As long as Alonso does not injure himself at a WEC event it is a win for F1 and McLaren as well. The media hype for “can he do it” will be very high! Now if we can just get the teams working together in F1 for the good of all concerned! Hear that Ferrari and Merc?

71

Ironic since, isn’t WEC suppose to be “better” than f1? Or so it’s fans keep saying. Why would they need one of f1’s biggest stars to promote their series?

72

If Toyota race hybrid engines is there a chance of them entering F1?

73

they left f1.

74

For the life of me why do we have to glorify yesterday bread,& I mean literally yesterdays, does anybody cares about Alonso who has been & I doubt he will ever be a Lazarus , however I do care about removal of gorgeous long legged ladies from the F1 grid , their looks silently saying this’s the place to be ” Buddy ” why don’t you come over, Liberty Media should think again of their action it could be the straw that broke Camel back.

75

I do care about Alonso, but I too care more about the now-removed ambassadors who added the glamour to F1.

Anyone know what the situation with them is at WEC?

76

Why? Because it’s clear that Fernando is still one of the top drivers out there. I do think it strange that he’s doing two series, and that it’s almost a tacit admission that another F1 title is a very remote possibility. Which I don’t understand … the McLaren was a very good chassis last year, so with the Renault PU it could be up there at the front.

It’s interesting to see how many seasons a WDC competed in after their last championship. Right now it reads as this:

11 Alonso
9 J.Villeneuve
8 Raikkonen
7 Button, Hulme, Surtees
6 G.Hill, E.Fittipaldi
5 Schumacher

A bunch at 4 …

77

alonso can go for more, so long as brown is at mclaren.

78

Nice stat! Even more shocking when you apply it to multiple WDCs instead.

79

You mean the same Alonso that has been putting that Honda powered go cart into positions it shouldn’t even have been in the past few seasons?
Put him in that Merc and Nico Rosberg is still a zero WDC and he’d be a runaway 5x WDC himself.
Geez, people here say Lewis has haters…

80

Yeah because Fernando has battled against other top drivers in an equal opportunity team, and come out ahead more times than not?

vs Lewis 0-1
vs Button 1-1

That’s before even factoring in the reliability disadvantage that he’d have to overcome in 2016. There’s nothing in Fernando’s racing history that would suggest he could bridge that gap against a solid driver in an equal opportunity team.

Your comment is just another in the long line of comments borne of the frustration that things as they are in F1, are not the way you’d like them to be.

81

where on earth did you get that idea? alonso will not fit in any of those cars except mclaren.
why not just deal with reality rather than your hallucinations?

82

Sars, no way you could possibly know what would happen if Fernando was in that Merc. Worth remembering though that there is a reason Mercedes flat refuse to employ him.

83

that there is a reason Mercedes flat refuse to employ him.

Lol – a rather awkward fact for his fans. Why do Mercedes continue to deny themselves access to his talent? It would appear there is a flip side that they aren’t so keen on.

84

really? you’d stop watching F1 if they take away the grid girls? Surely there’s plenty of stuff to watch that has all pretty girls and no noisy race cars to spoil the view. Why bother with F1 at all?

86

Well, as one door closes, another one opens.

Probably coincidence, but I never noticed Netball Superleague was being televised, till I lost the grid girls.

87

Axel, do you remember anyone mentioning grid girls before last month? Me neither, and yet for some people they suddenly seem to have become of the upmost importance!

88

Wow! Fernando’s got some clout hasn’t he?

89

TimW
It’s Alonso on a Vendetta trip 🤺

90

@Tim w
And he loves it! I bet his ego is about to explode now😉

91

@ james K…’ego is not a dirty word’ hahaha

92

I don’t think that Alonso has any clout or any pull on this. It’s all Toyota and what a way to stick it up Honda having poached ALO from them.

Maybe the FIA could get some congruencey in the engine regs of F1 and WEC to spread the development costs which might encourage more manufacturers into both sports.

93

Toyota poached Alonso from Honda?

Sorry Axel, no matter how hard I try (which admittedly isn’t very hard) I can’t agree:

It’s more like if you and your co-worker were working for your boss, and day after day your co-worker was just kicking you in the nads, until your boss finally realised that this is not a productive environment for success and told your co-worker to take a hike, and then someone else came along and offered you a more enjoyable job, plus you could still keep your existing job, only with much less kicking of said nads.

I’m betting that was a tough choice for Alonso 🙂

94

Yep Alonso rubbing the nose of Honda into the dirt by crossing over to Honda.
“Spanish Bushido Code of the Alonso Spanurai” …against the deflated Honda Samurai.

95

@ BK Flamer…Yes Honda have a lot to answer for. They effectively stole three years of hard racing from one of the true racers on the grid.

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