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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.”

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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