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.”