FIA World Endurance Championship and Formula V8 3,5 will join forces in 2017.
At least 6 of the 9 Formula V8 3,5 races on the 2017 calender will be held together with FIA WEC, which gives a great boost for both series.
Those 6 races are so far Silverstone, Spa Francorchamps, Nürburgring, Mexico, Japan, and Bahrain.
So far FIA WEC hasn’t had any fixed support series. They have been dependent on local races; for example it was the case at Spa Francorchamps this year. International series like TCR International, plus the “family member” ELMS, that has become a fixed partner at the opening race at Silverstone.
The single seater series, that previously has been known as World Series by Renault amongst some of its different names, lost the support from Renault prior to this year, and had then to run and promote their own events. It had cost a lot of teams, media time and last but not least, many spectators, since Renault often had free entry for the race weekends. It wasn’t unusual to see full tribunes, which haven’t been seen this year.
In previous seasons, World Series by Renault and ELMS have worked together, but none of the teams were fully happy with that, since they had to share garages, and therefore didn’t have their own garage for themselves for the whole weekend. It will be interesting to see who will be the “big brother” in this new collaboration, but it’s most likely to be FIA WEC, and then Formula V8 3,5 have to stick to having tents in the paddock, like what we see in Formula 1 with the GP2 and GP3 teams.
The FIA WEC boss Gérard Neveu says that he is very delighted with the new deal, and that the drivers from Formula V8 3,5 hopefully will see FIA WEC as their next step instead of the jump to Formula 1, that gets harder and harder to get into, since the departure of drivers from there isn’t so big anymore.
Furthermore the top 3 in the Formula V8 3,5 championship will win a test at the FIA WEC Rookie test in Bahrain when the season is over. It will be a seat in LMP1, LMP2 and GTE respectively. It’s not entirely clear from their press release if it’s already the winners from this year, or it will be from the 2017 top 3 and onward. But no matter what, its a price worth fighting for.
Several of the drivers in FIA WEC has competed in World Series by Renault, where current FIA WEC drivers like Filipe Albuquerque, Danny Watts, Fernando Rees, Brendon Hartley, Nathanaël Berthon, Richie Stanaway, Marco Sørensen and Roberto Merhi have participated.
The FIA WEC calendar is expected to look a lot like this year. The dates haven’t got final confirmation from the World Motorsport Council, but so far the dates are April 14th-16th for Silverstone, Spa May 4th-6th, Le Mans June 17th-18th, and Nürburgring July 14th-16th, followed by Mexico, Japan and Bahrain. So apparently only USA and China which haven’t been confirmed as venues yet, but since both countries are big markets for the car manufacturers, they will most likely be back on the calendar for 2017.