The 2019 Formula 1 draft calendar announced today includes a significant date change to the Japanese Grand Prix to October 14 — meaning it now directly clashes with the provisional weekend announced for the 2019/2020 FIA WEC season’s round at the Fuji Speedway.
In addition to clashing with the F1 round at Suzuka, the FIA WEC round at Fuji also clashes with the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech Championship season finale, Petit Le Mans, at Road Atlanta. That shift in date would therefore also give WEC drivers a chance to compete in the IMSA finale on consecutive weekends, and vice versa.
WEC management has been aware of the F1 date change and is set to investigate options as a matter of urgency to prevent two FIA world championships racing in the same country on the same day. A change to the WEC’s event could, of course, include a shift to the date now vacated by F1.
“Gerard (Neveu, WEC CEO) and the WEC team will be looking at this issue in the coming days,” a WEC spokesperson confirmed to RACER.
In a media briefing at the Silverstone WEC meeting earlier this month, Neveu said that it would “not be feasible for Japan to host two major FIA championships on the same weekend.”
The Japanese round of the WEC, one of the more popular races on the WEC calendar with fans and paddock members, has had a colorful history. Poor weather has interrupted the on-track running multiple times (pictured above: grim conditions for last October’s race) and this year’s event was also 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 following the addition of Fernando Alonso to the field.