Report: Austin sports car weekend could be in for changes

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This past September, the American Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship shared the weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. But the WEC’s boss wants changes to be made for the 2014 running before he decides to bring his series back to the States.

According to John Dagys of SportsCar 365, Gerard Neveu is asking that his WEC stage a day-to-night event on that Saturday afternoon, while the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship potentially shifts to running earlier that day; in 2013, the ALMS held its race at COTA on Saturday with the WEC following on Sunday.

In his comments to Dagys, Neveu expressed his wishes for a compromise between the WEC and the United series, but noted that he and the other teams in his series were not pleased about the Austin weekend this fall. As Dagys writes, less than 8,000 people out of the overall weekend attendance of 35,000 reportedly took in the WEC’s six-hour event at COTA.

“…Clearly the position of the [Automobile Club de l’Ouest] is to protect the WEC, it’s not to promote another series,” Neveu says. “In all spirits, when we wanted to do a joint venture, it was to make sure it was a successful event for both parties during the weekend.

“This is not the feeling after Austin. This is not the feeling that the paddock had in Austin. This is not the feeling and the feedback we received from our partners and from the FIA.”

Neveu also revealed that discussions are underway between the track and IMSA regarding the weekend’s organization.

Hamilton: McLaren could help create four-team F1 title fight in 2018

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Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes Formula 1 team cannot afford to let up in its push to improve ahead of a fiercer fight at the front of the field in 2018 – potentially including former team McLaren.

Hamilton clinched his fourth F1 drivers’ title in Mexico at the end of October as Mercedes continued its perfect record of championships since the introduction of the new V6 turbo hybrid engines in 2014.

The team faced a stiffer challenge in 2017 thanks to a resurgent Ferrari, while Red Bull also posed a threat towards the end of the season, setting the stage for another close fight next year.

Hamilton is expecting both Ferrari and Red Bull to remain a force at the front of the pack, but also feels McLaren could join the fight after ditching Honda in favor of a Renault engine supply for 2018.

“When I’m training and preparing for a new season, I firmly believe that we can be contenders for the next championship. It may turn out to be not possible, but you have to have that mindset,” Hamilton said.

“If you go in with expectations of finishing fifth, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to gear yourself up to win.

“Next year, McLaren will have Renault engines, then we may see four teams fighting for the championship. I think Red Bull will be quicker and Ferrari for sure will be fast again.

“We can’t stand still – we have to keep moving forwards.”

Hamilton started his F1 career with McLaren back in 2007, winning his maiden world title in 2008 before leaving the team for Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season.