It was bound to happen eventually: as racing schedules around the world were reshuffled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it stood to reason that, at some point, a team or manufacturer would face a clash between events from different disciplines. Now, Ferrari’s WEC and GT World Challenge Europe teams are facing a season finale clash on November 14-15, 2020.
WEC brought its 8 Hours of Bahrain race forward a week after Formula One announced its revamped schedule that included races at Bahrain on November 27-29 and December 4-6, Sportscar365 reports. Had WEC kept its original date, there may have been overlap between race series in the paddock as WEC moved out and F1 moved in.
Unfortunately, though, the WEC race now clashes with both IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring and, more importantly, GTWC Europe Endurance Cup’s Paul Ricard 1000. All three events are the finales for their respective series, but it’s WEC and GTWC that are having the driver clash.
Five of Ferrari’s six pro-class GTWC drivers are impacted: Pier Guidi, James Calado, and Nicklas Nielsen (drivers of the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020), and Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina (SMP Racing drivers).
There are, of course, other teams whose drivers compete in both series, but the problem isn’t as extensive as that at Ferrari, which also has race engineers who work in both series.
Right now, there is no sensible solution. Because the races are on different days, a driver could theoretically put in the first stint in Bahrain, then fly out to France for, say, the last stint, but anyone who’s travelled thousands of miles knows that’s a terrible idea. It’s exhausting, and no one is going to be performing at their best.
It’s still possible to change the race date, but it’s not likely an entire series will reschedule a race for the benefit of a handful of drivers—especially since the Ferrari teams impacted are not leading the championship.
With most racing series adopting a solidified schedule by this point, it isn’t likely we’ll see many more clashes like this one, but it certainly is frustrating for drivers and crew members who have been giving their all in two disciplines only to be asked to choose one or the other.