There will be big changes in the FIA World Endurance Championship through the coming years. Changes that has become necessary after Audi and Porsche deciding to leave the series with their LMP1 cars.
There will no longer be a specific LMP1-H category, but instead all cars will fight equality in an LMP1 category. Down to the EOT (Equivalence of Technology), cars with and without hybrid will be adjusted, so they can compete on level terms. It will still be possible to use both natural aspirated and turbo petrol and diesel engines, and all will be adjusted into the same performance.
The biggest change will be on the calendar.
The FIA WEC will turn into a winter series, where the finale will held at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 2018/19 season will be very special, since it will run over 15 months and with new mix of tracks.
The final calendar still has to be approved by the FIA World Motors Sports Council, but the proposed calendar looks like this:
• 5 & 6 April: The Prologue, Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA)
• 4 & 5 May: WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
• 16 & 17 June: 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)
• 13 & 14 October: 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN)
• 03 & 04 November: 6 Hours of Shanghai (CHN)
• February 2019: Place and event TBC
• 15 & 16 March 2019: 12 Hours of Sebring (USA)
• 3 & 4 May 2019 WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
• 15 &16 June 2019: 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)
The prologue at Paul Ricard will give the teams the opportunity to run a 36 hour test, if they wish to do so.
So the series will visit Spa and Le Mans two times each in the 2018/19 season, but we will say goodbye to Silverstone, Nürburgring and COTA. There is still one vacant slot on the calendar, and that will most likely be a battle between Bahrain and Mexico, which both wants to hold a race.
It has been clear for a long time that COTA was on its way out of the Championship, since the event haven’t been able to grab spectators enough. Through the first visits to the track, the event was a joint FIA WEC and IMSA event, but even that couldn’t attract spectators.
Instead it will be Sebring as the American round. The race will be run on the same weekend as the IMSA 12 hours, but with the IMSA race being run from 10am to 10pm on Saturday, and the FIA WEC race starting 2 hours later and will run until 12 midday.
That will offer two new experiences for the teams, who now not only have to focus on 6 and 24 hour races, but also a 12 hour race. And then the race will start in the dark, and drive into the daylight, just like it’s known from the Bathurst 12 hours race in Australia.
The 2018/19 calendar will consist of 8 races, before the 2019/20 and the future will consist of 7 races. That is to reduce the shipping costs for the teams. In the future, all the materials will be shipped around by sea fright, and according to the FIA WEC, that will reduce transport costs to a third of the current.
By changing the calendar to this format, we won’t see the tendency, that has been seen by a few teams over the year, i.e. applying for the FIA WEC and then compete only the first half of the season, and when the cars leaves Europe, they will stay home and instead focus on the upcoming season. By making Le Mans the finale, all the teams have to be there from the start and through all the season, because otherwise their Le Mans entry could suddenly be withdrawn. So far the teams have only got a fine for not showing up for the remaining rounds. This years we have seen ByKolles Racing Team and one of the Signatech Alpine Matmut, who has only run the European rounds, and then parked the cars.
In the coming time we will have further details regarding the outline of the Championship, since there has been a talk of a GTE qualification race on the Saturday, with only them running that race. But nothing is mention about that in this press release from the FIA WEC.