WEC boss defends decision to move race for Alonso

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: World Endurance Championship boss Gerard Neveu justifies the decision to move the Fuji race so Alonso could participate.

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Sumedh’s thoughts on Grand Prix Driver (you can read mine here):

I just finished watching the Grand Prix driver documentary. Kudos to McLaren for giving such unprecedented access, it really was a treasure to watch.

But I was really surprised to see such little of Honda in this documentary. The engineers are talking about how ‘the engine will come 48 hours before the fire-up’ and they have absolutely no idea what is happening with the engine then. The first Honda personnel we see is in episode two.

In episode four, it is mentioned that chassis number four will be sent to Japan (this is after first round of pre-season testing is over) so that the Honda engineers can also install the engine on the chassis and detect any problems. Why should it take until end of first round of pre-season testing to do this? Shouldn’t this be at least couple of weeks before testing starts? And this begs the question, what did these two parties do during 2015 and 2016? Surely, Mclaren and Ferrari test their engine and chassis together? And have done so every year.

Mclaren decided to go with Honda because they wanted to be a manufacturer-backed team and not just a customer. But what I saw on the documentary was an engine-manufacturer-customer relationship between the two parties. No wonder they barely made progress in these last three years.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “WEC boss defends decision to move race for Alonso”

  1. I’ve had the same impression as cotd while watching Grand Prix Driver; The integration of McLaren and Honda seemed lacking and late, and it didn’t all seem Honda’s fault, there were quite some parts from McLaren coming late as well, preventing the shakedown which would have given them 2-3 more days to work on the oil-system problem the engine initially had. Of course a whole lot of the engine itself was really bad, but it wasn’t the only thing that went wrong, and communication seemed to be severly lacking, too.
    That said, this impression might be because the series itself wasn’t as in depth as I hoped it would be; Yes, we got to see some facial reactions to certain events that we could only imagine before, but on the technical insight and information, it was low. It is only 2 hours, and it features a lot of info that we already knew (e.g. how drivers train, the general role of sponsorship in F1, etc.). That said, I was surprised how little the team could estimate the cars’ performance before it hit the track, I would have thought numbers from computers and simulations would provide a team with a somewhat better sense of that beforehand.

    1. Donald F. Draper
      11th February 2018, 13:38

      I also felt, when watching, that the organization and cooperation between the two corporations was lacking, especially considering that this was the beginning of their third year. I thought that we would have seen more of Honda as well, considering how essential it is to integrate the package together when creating the car, but it seems that there are some things even modern communication technology cannot solve or make easier. Working with a partner who is on the other side of the world is going to have caveats that even the best deal makers cannot see when deals are stuck.

      As for the lack of technical information and more emphasis on the training and drivers/corporation, think of it as an appetizer to the F1 entree. The largest potential audience for F1 is still in the Americas, and honestly, too much technical information would make potential followers more likely to change to another show that’s available to them. These potential consumers need as much background/story/character building as they can get without being overloaded with information that, in the grand scheme of things, only the biggest followers of the sport really care about…i.e. the viewers of this website.

      All about the hook then reel in the catch.

    2. It should’ve been called ‘Vandoorne’s Preparation for 2017’.

  2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    11th February 2018, 0:37

    “One of the key aspects is to pick a load case – what are you trying to protect against? There is no absolute truth with that; nobody is wrong and nobody is right. You choose what you try to protect against, and after that you have to accept if something more than that happens it won’t help, or not as much as is needed.

    Pretty much confirms what I said in an earlier post. FIA want something that is going to provide 100% protection against a wheel at 150mph or whatever it was. IndyCar seems to want something that is going to provide “just enough” protection to make certain debris impacts survivable.

    1. Well, let’s consider the big 4 accidents that led to the halo:

      Massa: Halo does nada. It could, conceivably, have made it worse.
      Surtees: Halo helps. Given the steep angle of impact, the halo probably stops the wheel, but I don’t know enough about the accident– I know the wheel assembly came off with the wheel, but potential for injury is still there.
      Wilson: Halo wins.
      Bianchi: Halo slows down impact for .5 of a second, similar injuries occur (Keep in mind that tractor took out the entire roll hoop).

      Now the IndyScreen:
      Massa: Screen wins.
      Surtees: Screen helps, but outcome is probably the same– steep angle of impact is an issue.
      Wilson: Surprisingly, I’m going to give this to the screen. The screen probably shatters, but deflects the nose cone, and Wilson suffers minor injuries. This is based on the apparent thickness of the screen, and the (relatively) large size of the piece of bodywork that hit Wilson’s car.
      Bianchi: No change.

      It’s a tough call– but three of these accidents (all except Wilson’s) could justifiably be called “freak” accidents.

      I think the screen has fewer potential downsides than the halo, however, and I’d rather have it than the halo on my car.

      1. I choose not go back and rewatch the Justin Wilson accident, but going by memory of seeing it the day of the race and not since, the screen would not have helped. Have my doubts that the halo would have helped either.

        But, I believe the point is that both racing series are seeking a solution to a difficult safety problem. That is progress.

    2. @braketurnaccelerate Indeed, It’s simply 2 different approaches due to 2 different philosophy’s.

      As I said yesterday the FIA have been looking at something to protect against larger objects while Indycar are happy with something that is able to deflect smaller pieces of debris.

      The Indycar approach is that the have the wheel tethers & also have tethers on the larger pieces of bodywork such as the wings so they are not looking at having to protect drivers against those things. Although the tethers can & do fail, See Scott Dixons crash at Indy last year where a front wheel/tyre/suspension assembly (As well as the entire back end of Scott’s car) was thrown across the track infront of traffic.

      The FIA on the other hand having done all the research they did into various different scenarios & having looked at various accidents from the past concluded that larger objects are the bigger danger so wanted something that was better able to withstand something like a high speed wheel strike.

      1. I won’t hold my breath but perhaps this info might silence some who insist that because Indycar has shown an aeroscreen on their car, that automatically must mean F1 is amateur and is being ‘beaten’ by Indycar, and is sitting on their hands and doing nothing about an alternative to the halo, all because, after all, the Indycar screen LOOKS better.

        1. @robbie, it’s also interesting to note the way in which a number of people were willing to attack the Halo on the grounds that, if the car was inverted, it would prevent the driver from exiting the car, but have stayed silent on that topic when the Indycar screen comes up, even though that would create as much, if not more, of an obstruction.

          1. @anon Agreed and I often have wondered about the scenario of a driver upside down and needing his head and neck stabilized out of precaution and thus helpers needing to access him before they even think of moving the car and damaging a spinal chord.

          2. The screen shown doesn’t block the sides the way the Halo does; it just raises the cockpit sides a bit. This makes it considerably less of an impediment to escape than the Halo. Put it this way: Indycar isn’t likely to need to increase the exit test time, the way the FIA has for the Halo.

  3. Neveu however, has now called upon IMSA to change the date of Petit Le Mans to prevent the clash.

    “We understand this causes trouble for some other drivers and my hope – a big hope – is that maybe that IMSA can find a way to move the date because we have done it before and it’s possible,” he said.

    It is wrong for the WEC to put the onus on IMSA to change their dates for a unilateral decision taken by the former. At the end of the article, the gentleman quoted claims that there was no other weekend they could move Fuji to, which is ludicrous. If you’re causing an issue, you should take pains to find a solution that will be suitable for all the parties involved.

    This opinion piece perfectly sums up my thoughts about the whole situation

    For all we know, granted Alonso wins Le Mans this year or in 2019, he could very well be off to new pastures in his personal quest, and leave the sports car racing world picking up the pieces.

    I am a huge fan of Nando, but there is no doubt that he is a selfish driver, and that is a plausible scenario. To ensure that he doesn’t desert sportscar racing, Toyota should pressure him to sign a multi-year deal. Otherwise, there really is not benefit to having him at all.

    1. @sundark I couldn’t agree more with you on this topic.

    2. @sundark

      Why do you assume that it is Alonso that is making the request to move the race? The WEC needs Alonso more than he needs it. The reason to move the Fuji race is purely commercial, to maintain interest in a series that is clearly on the wane.

      Alonso is everyone’s pantomime villain, any chance to knock him is treated with glee. The man just wants to race. If the WEC want him in Fuji, why is it his fault?

      1. @jaymenon10 Couldn’t agree with you more.

        This is to me the same as what I have been railing against with the halo/aeroscreen debate. Indycar has shown an as yet unproven windscreen in their car, and have less stringent testing requirements than F1, but because it looks better than the halo in most people’s opinion it would seem, that therefore means F1 sucks, isn’t even trying, is amateur because even Indycar is ‘beating them’ and is driven merely by politics.

        Makes you wonder why some people watch F1 if it is so Mickey Mouse.

      2. @jaymenom10 I have neither assumed, nor implied that Alonso made the request to move the Fuji race. I know that it’s the WEC that made the decision and that Toyota pressured them to do this. I’m just saying that it’s possible that Alonso will move on from WEC if he wins LeMans, and that the fan following, too, would move on with him. Toyota could’ve remedied this by pressuring him to sign a multi year deal, like they pressured WEC to change the date of the Fuii event.

        1. As if they were going to pressure FA, and as if that would be a recipe for a healthy relationship.

    3. If WEC seriously expected IMSA to be able to accommodate, it should have discussed and agreed a swap of dates (or other accommodation), then issued a joint statement. As it stands, IMSA would have standing to prosecute the FIA in the FIA Court of Appeal, for messing up multiple driver contracts through excessively late changes to the calendar for non-force-majeure reasons. The only reason it might not is because IMSA has more manners than WEC.

  4. Alonso is now like the Beatles.

    When the Beatles came to town everybody and everything made changes so the boys in the band were ready to play and open up the cash registers for the fans.

    Now Fernando gets entire event weekends changed so the fans will now come and spend their dollars.

    Hey Fernando wont you “drive my car” as the Beatles once sang

    1. To make the rockstar fairytale complete, Nando wins BOTH championships! In the same season!!!

      Internet would break down and have too take a month off to recoup.

  5. Sundar Shankar
    11th February 2018, 7:12

    Some people are commenting as if Alonso is personally forcing the FIA to bend over. The WEC calendar change is a request from Fuji Speedway and indirectly that means Toyota, purely for marketing and publicity reasons. Alonso’s ambition is to win LeMans. The rest of the calendar has not much value to his Triple Crown aspirations. But hey, let’s just vent our prejudiced opinions and do some opportunistic hating.

    1. Just in, the Venice Carnival will change date, just for Alonso to attend

      1. @johnmilk

        good business to accomodate the best in the business

  6. This off season.
    Halo story. Tick
    Fuji date change. Tick
    Where is the daily grid girls story?

    Here it is: http://en.f1i.com/news/291806-grid-girls-halo-hulkenberg-doesnt-hold-back.html

  7. I have no problem with the WEC moving the race to accommodate a world champion driver, it will fill seats because people want to see the best. The Canadian GP should be moved to allow F1 drivers to race at Le Mans for the same reason, and there should be no conflict with the Indy 500 either.
    For me the best drivers are capable of racing in different categories without compromise.

    1. @johnrkh ”The Canadian GP should be moved to allow F1 drivers to race at Le Mans for the same reason, and there should be no conflict with the Indy 500 either.”
      – In case you haven’t noticed, the Canadian GP and the Le Mans 24hrs are on different weekends already and avoiding Indy 500 just because of one driver again wouldn’t really make sense. Don’t be unreasonable.

      1. Yes the GP date I was wrong,

        and avoiding Indy 500 just because of one driver again wouldn’t really make sense. Don’t be unreasonable.

        Where in my post did I say it was for just one driver? How is it unreasonable to allow the so called best drivers in the world to compete in other categories? Have you asked them if they want to try another form of the sport? If you did I’m quite sure that many would jump at the chance of racing in a different category
        I stick to what I said on that.

        1. @johnrkh FA is the only current F1 driver who has a desire to compete in races of other categories during the F1 season, so that’s what I meant by ‘one driver.’ For 99% of the current F1 drivers, weekend clashes with other sports events are more or less entirely irrelevant as they don’t have the same desire as FA. Furthermore, avoiding a weekend clash with the Indy 500 is easier said than done due to how condensed the F1 schedule is at that time of year (and for most of the race-season period for that matter).

    2. @johnrkh How will you convince Indycar to move the Indy500 from Memorial Day it is held on for more than 100 years?

      1. @johnrkh I hear you and I don’t disagree with the sentiment of your posts, but I think this kind of thing has been going on for decades, but it seems F1 is enough for most drivers to be able to handle in a season. There are issues with contracts stipulating drivers can’t risk injury that would prevent them from doing all the contracted F1 races for example. And there can’t be conflicts with competing brands for a driver going from his F1 team to another team in another series. I’m sure it is far far more complex, mainly from an insurance and a sponsorship/legalese standpoint than when Jim Clark drove ‘everything’ as one driver example. Also there are more F1 races than ever, making scheduling conflicts more likely. All that said yeah I’d be fine with more crossover performances by F1 drivers…why not, if it can be feasibly done?

    3. If any driver – even the best – enters a championship after the last date on which calender changes for that level of championship are permitted by their regulations (as here), it is reasonable to expect that calender to stay put. Now it looks like fewer people will be able to watch the WEC because they either already booked to go to Fuji on a week that now has no race (without necessarily having the ability to get a refund), or they are committed to watching Jenson Button at the Super GT on the same weekend.

      Cross-championship attempts are welcome, but there is a limit as to how far these can be accommodated.

  8. I was looking forward to watching Grand Prix Driver as they ‘followed McLaren throughout the season’. Three episodes in and I though these were the first four episodes of a much longer season. Pretty disappointed to see that all the races were ‘covered’ in the last part of episode 4. No real insight on Alonso’s frustration during the season – we got more from the team radio.

  9. Here’s a better idea, move the race date of the Indy 500 so any F1 driver brave enough (and F1 team that would allow him to go to the worlds biggest race) could have a go.

    1. @Don That will never happen. Indy 500 has been on Memorial Day ever since it started (except for the years it didn’t run), and it has a lot of traditions tied in with this. It is unlikely the date could be moved for anyone – either it runs on Memorial Day or not at all.

      Similarly, Monaco GP has run on the European Spring Bank holiday ever since it started (except for the years it didn’t run) and has certain traditions tied in with this. Again, the date is unlikely to be movable for anyone – either it runs on Spring Bank holiday or not at all.

      To resolve this clash would require persuading either the American or Monaco governments to move the holiday. Good luck with that…

    2. @Don FA is the only current F1 driver who has a desire to compete in races of other categories during the F1 season. For 99% of the current F1 drivers, weekend clashes with other sports events are more or less entirely irrelevant as they don’t have the same desire as FA. Furthermore, avoiding a weekend clash with the Indy 500 is easier said than done due to how condensed the F1 schedule is at that time of year (and for most of the race-season period for that matter).

  10. Keith please make correction; move the race date of Monaco, so that they could have a go at the Indy 500. Editing capabilities would be nice.

  11. Have to wonder how and IndyCar style windscreen would work in the rain? IndyCar doesn’t race in wet conditions…

  12. Regarding the COTD. From the documentary, it did look like there was a massive disconnect from a works relationship between Honda and McLaren. Regarding the chassis not being present in Sakura, it seems that the chassis also had a dead line for completion which was close to the fire up, so there was no time to send a McLaren chassis for Honda to fit and test. McLaren count on Honda getting the chassis design details and measurements and build accordingly.. which they completely goofed up.

    I think the most important aspect of a works relationship is that the engine and chassis manufacturers remain in the same location. This is why Mercedes and Ferrari have an edge on everyone else. There is no point having a ‘works’ relationship with Honda if they refuse to set up shop in Woking.

    Honda seem completely disconnected from F1. They left the sport for 7 years, they refuse to hire talent from within the F1 community and they refuse to move their racing operations to Europe. God help them, because they have all the ingredients for a perfect failure. I’m pretty sure they’re going to make Toro Rosso endure their worst season in the sport in 2018.

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