Avoiding Le Mans/F1 clash ‘mission impossible’ for Todt

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TURIN, Italy – FIA president Jean Todt claims that preventing a clash between the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Formula 1 races is “mission impossible”.

F1 chiefs came under fire after a clash between the European Grand Prix in Baku and Le Mans last weekend.

The winning Porsche car took the checkered flag at Le Mans just seconds before the lights went out to start the F1 race in Baku, causing a headache for fans and others following both events.

The CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship believed the scheduling to be a direct attack on Le Mans, while the president of the ACO told NBC Sports earlier this year that he hoped the FIA would do more in the future to prevent the clash.

However, Todt believes that due to the high number of top line series with ever-growing calendars, it is not possible to ensure that Le Mans does not clash with another event.

“You know it’s kind of mission impossible,” Todt said.

“We were talking about how many healthy series in motor racing, and we have only 52 weekends.

“I was in Le Mans, I never saw as many people. I don’t think that Le Mans was penalized by having Baku at the same time.

“I was in Baku, and incidentally I was watching [Le Mans] and I could follow because it started at 3pm and finished at 3pm. So it was quite easy to follow the start of the race and the finish of Le Mans if you really wanted.

“I must sympathize for Bernie [Ecclestone]. He has 21 grands prix, then it’s with national holidays [to consider] – we have a lot of things.

“With due respect, [critics] often don’t have all the ingredients in hand to be able to make the final assessment.

“It is easy to criticise, but probably if you would be in this situation, you would not have managed to do better.”

When asked if the clash was really necessary, Todt replied: “It was not possible to do otherwise.”

However, Le Mans legend Emmanuele Pirro believes that Le Mans is an event that should be protected due to its history and significance.

“I think that was not a good move. Definitely not,” Pirro told NBC Sports.

“You have to say that to design a calendar is more and more difficult because there are many races in different disciplines so it is not easy.

“However, certain pillars of motor racing should be respected.

“Baku was a really interesting race. I think altogether it was a really interesting event.

“The only problem is that it was on the same weekend as Le Mans.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.