One of our IT guys decided to visit the WEC at Silverstone last weekend and had a great time. As a die-hard F1 fan the whole experience got him thinking and he’s penned his first article in our FanZone:
F1 has long been held as the ‘undisputed’ pinnacle of Motorsport, the center-stage where the best drivers in the would could showcase their talents in the best cars in the world, however having been to Silverstone and undertaken a fair bit of research since I believe this is no longer the case. I believe that the FIA World Endurance Championship is close to stealing F1’s thunder.
Many like minded Motorsports fanatics have begun to refer to F1 as the ‘feeder series’ to the WEC, why is this you ask? It’s no secret that due to costs involved with running a racing team, Team Managers now increasingly look for a driver who can bring in a considerable levels of personal sponsorship to help cover these costs, therefore perhaps more than ever its not necessarily about how good you at driving a race car but more so about how much money you can bring to the team in sponsorship, and that is what F1 is all about… being the ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport generally means being at he top of the cost curve as well. For this reason many talented drivers only stay in F1 for a couple of years before they are ousted by someone bringing a bigger cheque and many don’t even make it to F1 as a driver, often paying huge amounts to get no further than a test or reserve driver.
Next I want to spend a few moments on the cars; F1 cars all look the very similar due in no small part to the very stringent rules participants must to adhere to. WEC on the other hand is much more relaxed in terms of how the car looks and the rules are written to focus heavily on fuel consumption limits to dictate how a car should be built. Endurance racing is also demonstratably more innovative than F1, for years developments that have been made to cars that tackle the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans (one of the WEC Races) which include Headlights (the original reason for organising the race!), Disc Brakes and Hybrid systems to name but a few and all have all been adapted for use in road cars that we all drive today.
The racing in my opinion is much better and provides more entertainment, F1 generally has a team or driver that will usually go off into the distance after the first few laps and invariably on to win the race; don’t get me wrong, there have been some great moments of racing in F1, the battles between drivers such as Senna & Prost, Schumacher & Hill, Vettel & Webber to name a few however these gladiatorial challenges are sadly few and far in-between.
Now let’s take a look at the previous weekend’s WEC season opening round at Silverstone as the latest example; 6 hours of racing with the lead car changing numerous times throughout the race and a time difference of less than 15 seconds between the top 3 at the checkered flag. This isn’t a one off either, its a regular occurrence, after 24 hours of intense racing only 15 seconds separated first and second place at the 2011 Le Mans race and it wasn’t won by the quickest car either. To add to the excitement the WEC also run multiple classes at the same time therefore during the main race there are also several different class based races occurring (LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro, GTE-Am) and this differing mix of car types keeps the drivers of all classes on thier toes as well as the faster cars are frequently having to pass slower back markers which adds to the excitement of it all.
Finally if Silverstone has taught me anything its that the fans count. In F1 I feel as if I am just a number, at Silverstone for the WEC I felt a part of it; teams let us get up close and personal with the cars and the drivers, Nissan brought 2 replicas of their Le Mans GT-R car just so fans could experience sitting in the cockpit of one, a pit walk with driver autographs sessions was included in the ticket price and the first 2000 people to purchase a ticket were also given a pass to attend the pre-race grid walk, now can you imagine F1 doing that..? I thought not. I really felt that the WEC encourage the fans to get involved and enjoy themselves and this in my opinion is what will cause the WEC to eventually knock F1 off of its “Best of Motorsport” pedestal. I’ll certainly be attending again and I’m putting Motors TV into Sky+ for the next round at Spa!