F1 Isn’t All That’s Happening This Weekend… Keep An Eye On Sebring
After months of living in despair, motor racing fans really do have a reason to wake up this weekend. Not only is Formula 1 back from its 4-month break, but both major endurance championships return to our screens as well. While the IMSA series ran only 6-weeks ago, the WEC cars haven’t been seen on-track since November.
1000 Miles of Sebring
As the 2018-2019 WEC Superseason draws to a close, the third-to-last event is the 1000 Miles of Sebring. It represents a quick, one-off stop on the American continent before heading back to Europe in May for the second running of the Spa 6 hours of the season.
The race could prove crucial in the championship as only 5 points separate the top two Toyotas with Alonso, Nakajima and Buemi leading Lopez, Kobayashi and Conway. However, the recent form of the second-place team may mess-up Fernando’s plans of winning the big endurance championship. The rest of the LMP1 field is somewhat further away from the big-budget Toyotas.
After a great race in Shanghai, Aston Martin have managed to close the gap to both Ferrari and Ford for second place in the GTE Manufacturers Championship with 94, 102 and 105 points respectively. Porsche however are controlling the pack with a 76-point advantage over the best of the rest.
The great news for me is that Alpine are just 10 points from the lead in the LMP2 Team Championship trailing behind only the Chinese outfit of Jackie Chan DC Racing. To see why this is good news, check out this post on my dream car.
The 1000 Miles of Sebring puts the WEC cars and teams into a new and fairly unique challenge for the Series. In fact, the track is very much unlike most circuits the cars visit. It is made mostly from a material resembling concrete more than traditional tarmac and is covered in more bumps than a British B-road. This all provides difficulty for the engineers when setting the car up but also for the drivers to keep the car on the island. The closest these cars would have come to the Sebring Raceway would be the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its civilian-grade, bumpy tarmac with reduced grip.
Sebring 12 Hours
Unlike the WEC teams, IMSA participants are indeed used to driving on the infamous Sebring bumps. In fact, this is will be the 67th running of the fabled event which is now part of a larger accomplishment dubbed the “Florida 36 Hours”. This includes both the Sebring race and the Daytona 24 Hours that took place in the end of January. To succeed in the Florida 36 Hours, a team has to win both events. Therefore, it is much like the Grand slam in many competitions in worldwide sports as it isn’t achieved every year.
Although every race is important to the championship, this is only the second round of the 2019 IMSA Series meaning mentioning the standings would be a pretty pointless exercise. With that in mind, Fernando Alonso is currently in the lead of yet another Championship alongside his Daytona 24 Hour teammates Jordan Taylor, Renger Van Der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. This is certain to change though as both Alonso and Kobayashi have been told not to compete in the 12 Hours due to their commitments to the Toyota LMP1 project.
There are however some drivers attempting to complete an astonishing 20 hours of racing over the two races. If you keep in mind that the drivers also have to go through Free Practice and Qualifying, the feat they are pushing towards is mind-boggling. Some of these absolute mad men are the Corvette crew of Magnussen, Garcia and Rockenfeller as well as Jonathan Bomarito, Gunnar Jeannette, Patrick Lindsey, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Harry Tincknell, Olivier Pla and ex-F1 star Brendon Hartley.
With both major endurance races along with support races for both series, the Sebring racetrack is being well and truly rubbered in after a couple of long winter months. But who will leave more than just rubber on the track through crashes and who will rain supreme after the four days of running?