Nico Hulkneberg is set to achieve a lifelong ambition this year – to take part in the Le Mans 24 hour race. When the deal was announced last November, the German remarked, “I am very pleased the 2015 Formula 1 calendar allows for it and I’m grateful to my Force India team’s generosity to let me go for it. Now it’s up to me to work hard to satisfy both commitments.”
However, the Formula One calendar almost hi-jacked Hulkneberg’s preparation for the greatest endurance motor race of them all, when in December the F1 Grand Prix of Korea was briefly resurrected and scheduled for this coming weekend.
Hulkenberg will debut for Porsche in this weekend, at the WEC, ‘6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps’ event at the historic Belgium venue.
For some, the era when drivers competed in different series such as Formula One, Sports car racing and on the ovals of North America was a golden time for motorsports. The drivers themselves commanded great respect, because the cars were beasts to handle and each series required completely different skills from those piloting the racing machines.
The perception of Formula One cars today is that they are too easy to drive and the arrival of a 17 year old Dutchman this year has been used as evidence of this.
It is rare these days that top level drivers compete in different top level racing series. Le Mans winner André Lotterer had a brief foray into F1 in 2014 with the doomed Caterham team, though his race was over before it began.
The last full time Formula 1 driver to combine Le Mans with his regular racing schedule was Sébastien Bourdais in 2009, with Toro Rosso and Peugeot respectively.
Motorsports fans could have been treated to another current F1 big name driver participating in the WEC series in 2015, however as Spanish publication Marca reports, Alonso was frustrated at the final hurdle.
The Spaniard told the BBC last year, “To win the Le Mans 24 Hours means a lot to any driver, so one day hopefully I will race there,” and it appears a deal was done in November that would see Fernando Alonso race also for Porsche at the French blue ribbon event this year.
Marca claims the publication of the rather strange draft calendar which included the temporary resurrection of the Korean GP, scuppered any hope Alonso had of racing in WEC this year.
This if course raises questions regarding influence and self-interest. McLaren clearly do not want one of their star drivers representing another sports car brand which competes with the McLaren road car division.
The ‘fake’ Korean race appears to have solved a sticky contractual problem quite nicely. Alonso presumably had a get out clause with Porsche based on his potential Formula One duties.
However, fans of Motorsport have been denied seeing one of the best Formula One drivers for a generation competing in Le Mans.
The FIA should lay out general rules to prevent F1 / WEC / race teams from influencing how a driver fills in the rest of his career besides racing in F1 / WEC / etc. But as we all know the small one from France that sits on top of the FIA mountain refuses to do anything for motorsport that will actually result in that his name is associated with something positive in motorsport.
“For some, the era when drivers competed in different series such as Formula One, Sports car racing and on the ovals of North America was a golden time for motorsports.”
– yes in 1965 Jim Clark won 6 of the first 7 GPs, missing out on Monaco – because he was at the Brickyard, winning the Indy 500
– definately another era – sadly missed
Corporate racing does not want their multi-million dollar drivers competing in any other series. Their purpose is to protect their “investment”. Imagine any of the big names, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen, being injured or killed while racing another series. Remember Robert Kubica?
“Corporate racing does not want their multi-million dollar drivers competing in any other series. Their purpose is to protect their “investment”. Imagine any of the big names, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen, being injured or killed while racing another series. Remember Robert Kubica?”
This is the issue. The financial ramifications would be quite large. There are insurance policies but it all boils down to the money.
I was so impressed with the Silverstone race. WEC definitely has it together this year. FIA WEC app http://www.fiawec.com/app.html for timing and streaming of the race. ( only $4.99 for full version, suck it F!)
Hulk SMASH! 😉
Full race stream?
I’m going to say yes. I’m pretty sure it was the Premium Season Pack I purchased for $4.99 last night. And check out the page linked above. You get a quite a bit just with the free version.
Premium Season Pack
It includes FULL LIVE COVERAGE of the 7 races and qualifying sessions. The best way to be part of the race at the heart of the action wherever you are!
Access to onboard camera. Select your favorite car and follow the race from inside the cockpit.
That really sucks. Hopefully with time he’ll be alright.
Dude Tuna – Thanks for the info!
On the fake GP… Though Bernie had to okay the ruse, I can see team principles making the suggestion. Ron Dennis, whose driver is the victim of this charade, is, behind his stoicism, a ruthless character.