The Formula One vs. Le Mans debate was always one-sided. But after years of battling unofficially for supremacy, I wonder if Formula One reacted to their insecurity of being replaced as the pinnacle of motorsport and forced the FIA to act on their behalf. (Read: F1 Teams, TV Blackouts And Bernie Ecclestone)
The latest version of the 2016 Formula 1 calendar released by the FIA indicates a clash in dates between the all-important Grand Prix of Azerbaijan (or the European Grand Prix!) and a 24 hours endurance race that will be held near a town called Le Mans in France. (Read: Is MotoGP Better Than F1?)
Gerard Neveu, the head of the World Endurance Championship, believes that this was done on purpose to stop Formula 1 drivers from participating in the world’s oldest endurance racing event and that the FIA should’ve acted better to protect the interests of both – the racing series and the fans. (Read: F1 Puts Fans First)
But the FIA isn’t Ecclestone’s only ally. He also found support in (or forced…?) Nico Hulkenberg, the 2015 Le Mans Champion, who publically admitted that his preference would be to race in Formula 1 even if it meant that he wouldn’t be able to defend his title in 2016! (Read: The Truth About Overtaking)
Was this statement Hulkenberg’s best move in Formula 1 yet? Not only did he possibly impress Ecclestone, but by choosing Formula 1 over Le Mans he did somewhat claim which series is superior. And given that he is the current Le Mans champion, his endorsement matters. (Read: Fernando Alonso, The Unluckiest Double World Champion?)
But I wonder if this is this a wise career decision. His only option to win a race at the moment is outside of Formula 1 and Le Mans is possibly his best bet. But I guess this sort of a public endorsement and loyalty is what Ecclestone was looking for.
You’re welcome to listen to my views on Nico Hulkenberg’s decision and other news on Formula 1 in this episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast.