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WEC reveals eight-race winter calendar for 2018-19, Sebring returns

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The FIA World Endurance Championship will return to Sebring International Raceway in 2019 as part of a new winter calendar set to come into force next year.

Featuring eight races across 18 months, the 2018/19 WEC ‘super season’ will see the championship achieve its long-held goal of finishing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with two visits to the Circuit de la Sarthe scheduled in the campaign.

The six-hour race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas has been cut, as have the Silverstone, Nürburgring, Mexico City and Bahrain events from the existing nine-race schedule.

Having hosted the inaugural WEC race back in 2012, Sebring returns to the calendar as part of a double-header weekend that will see a 12-hour event run directly after the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s own race.

2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship Provisional Calendar

1. 4-5 May – WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
2. 16-17 June – 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)
3. 13-14 October – 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN)
4. 3-4 November – 6 Hours of Shanghai (CHN)
5. February 2019 – Place and event TBC
6. 15-16 March 2019 – 12 Hours of Sebring (USA)
7. 3-4 May 2019 – WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
8. 15-16 June 2019 – 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)

In the same announcement, officials from the FIA and the ACO confirmed tweaks to the regulations for LMP1 from 2018 in reaction to Porsche’s shock decision to quit the class at the end of the season, the aim being to stimulate more interest from manufacturers to join Toyota in the category.

Here are the planned changes:

  • From 2018/2019, and in the future, there will only be one category (and consequently one classification) in LMP1.
  • To make it as accessible as possible to join this category from the 2018-2019 season onwards, the level of performance of the current non-hybrid LMP1 regulations managed via equivalence of technologies will be aligned with the current LMP1 hybrid regulations.
  • Each competitor entered in LMP1 will have the same potential of performance independent of the type engine power used. Very clearly there will always be a slight advantage for the hybrid engine in terms of autonomy related to lower fuel consumption.
  • There will be no changes made to the current chassis regulations (only LMP1 chassis will be eligible) but to facilitate the access to LMP1, more choice and engine power options will be offered. Depending on the selected criteria, an Equivalence of Technology will be implemented between turbo compressed and normally aspirated engines (as done in the past between petrol and diesel).
  • All these decisions will apply for the next two seasons.

“Other regulatory decisions, which are still being finalized, will be announced later on covering areas such as a reduction in the number of private tests and collective tests proposed,” the statement from the series adds.

“The 2020 LMP1 regulations will be substantially altered as compared to the model presented during the last 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The ACO and the FIA remain wholeheartedly convinced that technology including Hybrid systems must keep its place of honor in Endurance racing, but not at any price.

“The budgets invested over these last years in LMP1 Hybrid are no longer sustainable and a return to reasonable budgets should allow all manufacturers to compete in this discipline.”

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.