At the end of July 2016, a rather exciting piece of news was released, being that the Formula V8 3.5 Championship had signed an agreement to be part of the World Endurance Championship package from 2017. The championship will follow the widely-respected WEC for 6 of the 9 rounds, with three rounds being outside of Europe (Mexico, Japan and Bahrain).
Both organizations have listed their chief goals being to ‘provide young single-seater drivers with the opportunity to enter a professional motorsport environment offering a clear and well-defined professional career path including LMP1, LMP2 and GTE in addition to any other series in the pinnacle of motorsport. This benefits not only the drivers but also their families or backers’.
Now this sounds wonderful and any link up that can benefit a series is certainly welcome.
How successful will this be?
Well there is a prize which is worth winning for any driver, which is the opportunity to participate in WEC’s Rookie Test in Bahrain in the main categories of LMP1 or LMP2 or GTE for the drivers placed first, second and third in the Formula V8 3.5 championship. This is a great motivation for a young driver to establish themselves in front of a number of highly respected manufacturers. There is also hope that the tie-up will attract more teams back to the series, which has suffered with a lack of entries (13 in the last two rounds).
However the concern in my view is that there will be an increased cost for a series which has prided itself on affordability. If it is too expensive already for teams travelling to Europe then surely the cost increases for treks to Mexico and Bahrain? Furthermore, the drivers are trying to impress non single-seater racing teams, which may affect their career paths, especially if F1 is the ultimate goal.
It will be intriguing to see how this link up works for both parties in 2017, and hopefully any fear of negativity will be quickly banished.