Rejoice, for something involving the FIA finally makes sense. The 24 Hours of Le Mans—the most famous sportscar race in the world and the crown jewel of the World Endurance Championship—will no longer share a weekend with Formula One’s trip to Baku, Azerbaijan.
A 20-race Formula One season calendar was approved today by the World Motor Sport Council, with the usual mix of traditional venues, major markets and dictator-states with cash. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to run on June 17th and 18th, 2017, thus clashing with zero dates on the F1 schedule.
The summer races have been shuffled around to fill the gap left by the German Grand Prix’s departure from the schedule. Between needing to space out races to fill out Germany’s space and not having two ofthe FIA’s biggest championships fight each other for attention, the Baku move to a week later makes a ton of sense.
Baku’s race organizers pushed the FIA to avoid a clash with Le Mans in future years due to the fact that few paid much attention to it this year, according to Motorsport.com, and it worked. Furthermore, as they’re not actually in Europe, they also successfully lobbied to change their grand prix’s name from the European Grand Prix to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Of course, this shift on the calendar has the side-effect of making even more top-level drivers available for third cars and other one-off Le Mans efforts in a year where there’s already a ton of available talent left in the wake of Audi’s departure from Le Mans’ top LMP1 class. C’mon, Fernando Alonso—you know you want to try out an LMP1 a year early.
The final F1 calendar also includes the annoyance of the United States Grand Prix being only a week apart from the nearby Mexican Grand Prix. We’re going to need someone along the lines of Taylor Swift back in Austin, I guess. Furthermore, Brazil is no longer listed as “subject to confirmation,” so Interlagos is on there for good now.