The provisional 2019 Formula One calendar has seen a not-altogether unexpected Japanese Grand Prix date change, the Suzuka event now timetabled for October 14 next year.
That though is a date already occupied by the Fuji Speedway round for the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Championship, itself a controversial date as it clashes with the 2019 IMSA season finale, Petit Le Mans, at Road Atlanta.
WEC management are understood to have been aware of the potential move and, with the provisional F1 calendar now published, are set to investigate options as a matter of urgency, including, of course, a shift to the date now vacated by Formula One, that option looking very likely.
A WEC spokesperson told DSC: “Gérard (Neveu) and the WEC team will be looking at this issue in the coming days.”
In a media briefing at the Silverstone WEC meeting earlier this month Neveu had already commented that it would “not be feasible for Japan to host two major FIA championships on the same weekend.”
That feasibility revolves around a number of organisational issues including the use of the same medical and extrication teams by both Championships.
Any switch would remove one of the clashes brought by the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, opening up the opportunity for drivers to contest the WEC event and the IMSA finale on successive weeks.
The Japanese round of the WEC, whilst a popular fixture with teams and fans alike, has had a colourful history, both in terms of weather, and with this year’s event switched to avoid a clash with Petit Le Mans (which had itself been moved to avoid a clash with a football game) only to see the switch controversially reversed in the wake of the arrival in the Championship of Fernando Alonso.