No clash for Le Mans and F1 in 2016, but Monaco and the Indy 500 will share a date once again


The World Motor Sport Council has confirmed that the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on June 18-19 following a meeting in Mexico City earlier this week.

As part of an extensive statement that confirmed the provisional calendar for the 2016 Formula 1 season, the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E calendar and changes to the regulations in F1, the WMSC confirmed the date of the twice-around-the-clock classic.

Once again, Le Mans will not clash with any F1 grands prix, thus opening up the possibility for drivers to race in both series just as 2015 winner Nico Hulkenberg did.

However, those in F1 with hopes of a shot at the Triple Crown of Motorsport – the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 – will be left disappointed for once again Monaco and Indy clash.

Last month, we considered whether it would be possible to see the likes of Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel racing at the Brickyard in 2016 should the 500 be held on one of F1’s ‘off’ weekends.

Both Alonso and Vettel hinted that it is a race they would like to take part in, but it appears that both will be left disappointed for 2016 – although it would have been a long shot regardless – as both Monaco and Indy are slated for May 29.

However, F1 does appear to have taken a leaf out of IndyCar’s book with a more condensed schedule for the 2016 season.

Although it may not be squeezing 16 rounds into just five months, introducing more back-to-back events is only set to put a greater strain on the personnel in the paddock.

IndyCar has learned its lesson for 2016, and will not be running another five month season again. F1’s long-term plan appears to point towards a calendar that could feature as many as 23 races, though.

The thinking looks a bit like this: if the paddock can handle a 19 race season that runs from March to November, and it can also handle a 21 race season running from April to November, surely it could manage 23 races from March to November?

It’s food for thought. Regardless, here’s how next May and June are shaping up following the WMSC’s calendar announcements.

May 1 – Russian Grand Prix
May 14 – Grand Prix of Indianapolis
May 15 – Spanish Grand Prix
May 21 – Berlin ePrix
May 22 – Indianapolis 500 qualifying
May 29 – 100th Indianapolis 500/Monaco Grand Prix
June 4/5 – Dual in Detroit/Moscow ePrix
June 12 – Canadian Grand Prix
June 18-19 – 24 Hours of Le Mans
June 26 – British Grand Prix

Also set to take place in May and June: FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa, plus additional IndyCar events.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).