The puzzle of the F1 calendar and the 24 Hours of Le Mans resurfaces
This is a debate that comes up very often: can we organize a Formula 1 Grand Prix on the same weekend as the 24 Hours of Le Mans? For the new vice-president of the FIA, the answer is no, whereas it will be precisely the case this year, for the first time in six years. Next month, during the 90th edition of the Le Mans classic, Formula 1 will be in Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. A situation that the international body could therefore seek to avoid in the future, and even more so in 2023, the year which will mark the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
« It’s a good opportunity for us to say that there should be no scheduling conflict next year, and it should become the norm. »underlines Robert Reid, vice-president of the FIA since the election of Mohammed Ben Sulayem. « I would be in favor of there being no clash, in general as well as next year specifically. »
The problem remains that the FIA is not « not autonomous » regarding the development of the Formula 1 calendar. « The WEC works the same way as all the championships, but there is an exception for F1, where it is the promoter who proposes a calendar and then it is up to the FIA to accept it or not »says Robert Reid. “F1 is slightly different, because they more or less decide the calendar.
It would therefore be a question of carrying out « a little negotiation » with the Formula One Group and its owners of Liberty Media, on the condition also that the opinion expressed by Robert Reid is shared by all the leaders of the FIA. Present last weekend in Belgium for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, he in any case raised the subject with Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, at the request of the latter. « I know the opinion of the ACO, particularly with the centenary coming up next year »he slipped.
In 2020 and 2021, two seasons largely disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, the Formula 1 calendar had once placed the Canadian Grand Prix on the same weekend as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Twice, the event on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve had finally been canceled for health reasons. The other problem for the FIA comes from the increasing number of Grands Prix, restricting the alternatives. “We are starting to run out of weekends, now that the championship has more and more rounds”concedes Robert Reid.
Interview by Gary Watkins