Will WEC take over?
7th May 2014, 1:12 at 1:12 am #259047
I think WEC needs a really engaging and easy to access 1 hr highlight and feature show on the Monday evening on free-tv after the races.
Something on (for example) ITV2/3/4 which shows 30 mins of race footage, gets interviews with drivers and team personnel, and pieces which explain the rules and different tech used would be great.
Six hours and 24 hours is probably too long for casual viewers but a well produced highlights and features show on a popular channel at a reasonable evening time could prove to be a surprise hit with viewers.7th May 2014, 1:27 at 1:27 am #259048
@calum – ESPN did that exact thing a few years ago with the ALMS coverage here in the US. As an avid race fan, it annoyed me to no end, and I hated it. By the time it aired, you’d already know who won and how the race went.7th May 2014, 3:19 at 3:19 am #259051
I have to agree with what others have said – the length and infrequency of the races prevent the WEC from enjoying the same broad appeal as F1. However, I am certain that there will be legions of devoted F1 fans who will be having their loyalty tested by what is simply a better racing series, including myself.
I discovered the WEC a little over a year ago. I was out of a job, having decided to go to university, and any hope of me being able to afford my annual trip to the British Grand Prix was gone. I’d heard about the 6 Hours of Silverstone, however, so I made an on-a-whim decision to give it a try. What a day it was. It had been nearly a decade since I’d been to a non-F1 race, and the sheer access and experience I got from the WEC truly surprised me. I could walk through the paddock, see the drivers, watch the mechanics rushing around… it was something I could never have experienced at an F1 race. And the racing wasn’t bad either! Since then I’ve been hooked. Although I was a little upset I couldn’t attend my beloved British Grand Prix last year, this year I haven’t even thought about going. But I was sure to pre-order my 3-day ticket for the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
I could ramble on all day about the reasons why I love the WEC, but for me the best part is that it reminds me why I fell in love with motorsport. The wide-eyed fascination I had when I first watched F1 in my pre-teens is long gone. But now, at the age of 21, I now enjoy that same child-like fascination with the WEC. 6 hours just fly by.7th May 2014, 7:14 at 7:14 am #259054
No. WEC has no chance of ‘taking over’ the popularity of Formula 1.
I went to the 6 Hours of Silverstone and while it was a great experience that I really enjoyed, it was a very different type of thrill to watching a live grand prix and I came away without that same level of satisfaction I get whenever I leave a grand prix after a weekend.
First of all, six hours is far too long for casual viewers. After the first hour at Silverstone where there was some exciting racing, all the drama and excitement came from whenever someone spun off or had a problem, not from actual on-track racing.
The nature of endurance racing is that a lot of the tension comes from whether everyone will have problems or retire, rather than if a car will pass another or not. And that’s fine – I enjoy that element of endurance racing. But anyone who doesn’t appreciate that element will likely struggle to be able to keep their interest during hours four, five or six of a typical WEC race.
When it comes to F1, one of the reasons it’s so popular is because the teams have their own distinct identities that are relatively easy to follow. Each team makes two of their own cars in its own colours with two drivers and everyone is competing in one ‘class’ purely for the outright win. Trying to explain to my girlfriend in Silverstone – who is a big F1 fan but was a relative WEC virgin – what the differences between LMP1-H and LMP1-L, let alone between LMP1 and LMP2 were was a bit complicated. And when it comes to the GT class, you have different teams running the same cars with some running more than others. Then you have the fact that each of the cars has multiple drivers and OH MY GOD I CAN’T KEEP UP.
There are other elements that I feel will prevent the WEC from becoming a serious challenger to F1. The fact that qualifying is a big part of a grand prix weekend and the current WEC qualifying system is nowhere near as ‘sexy’ as F1’s. There’s the fact that you tend to get an awful lot of Safety Car downtime over a typical WEC race. The fact that you have a dedicated ‘amateur’ category in GT class puts it at a lower status compared to F1, which is reserved purely for officially super-licensed drivers.
But WEC is a fantastic form of motorsport and it’s undoubtedly growing in stature and it’s great to see. With Porsche joining this year (Webber was by far the most popular driver in Silverstone) and Honda next year in LMP2, the series is only going to go from strength to strength. The value for money you get going to a WEC race is so greater than you get out of going to an F1 race and I strongly encourage everyone who has even a minor interest in the WEC to go to a race if that’s possible.
But while there’s no doubt the WEC has the chance to increase its popularity in the coming years, I seriously doubt that it will become a serious threat to usurping F1’s standing as the world’s most popular racing series.7th May 2014, 8:25 at 8:25 am #259023
Completely agree with you there: I’ve been to two Grands Prix and two 24 hours of Le Mans before, and this year I’ve made the conscious decision to go to Le Mans instead of the Belgian GP. My previous GP experiences have been very restrictive, you couldn’t really see much and I just felt that it wasn’t worth paying ridiculous amounts of money for.
There are a couple of reasons why WEC won’t replace F1. First of all there’s the length: I’m sure there are only a few people who are fascinated for 6 hours, let alone 24. A lot of it boils down to strategy, not a lot of ‘action’, so I doubt whether the big masses will get it. Also, because every team consists of three drivers, driver rivalry will be virtually non-existent.
But maybe that’s a good thing, I mean, the last thing we need is the casual viewers discovering WEC and the promoter making idiot decisions like sprint races, double points for the final round or -god forbid- DRS.7th May 2014, 10:52 at 10:52 am #259060
I love the WEC and many other series that consist of mixed Prototypes and GT (TUSC, ELMS) or just straight GT (Blancpain, Pirelli World Challenge), but I really hope not.
The racing is great, the access you get when at the circuit is amazing and the value for money can’t be beat. But if it becomes as popular as Formula 1, it’ll fall into the same traps, the races will be busy and expensive to attend, you won’t get anywhere near as much access as you would currently, the entire thing will get dumbed down for the mass audience and the casual fan who can’t figure out why the drivers are changing and why the GT cars look different from the LMP’s.
Hopefully it’ll stay as popular as it is now. The series is accessible, good value for money, provides brilliant racing. Sure the races are longer and require a different approach if you’re going to watch. I sat and watched all 6 Hours of Spa last weekend and just about kept up with what was going on.
Sportscar fans would not be happy if it got proper popular and therefore gets messed with just so more people can watch and understand it.7th May 2014, 20:17 at 8:17 pm #259098
@ajokay I seriously doubt there are people who don’t understand why drivers change during a 24-hour race.7th May 2014, 21:58 at 9:58 pm #259106
I love the WEC, and Le Mans is possibly my motorsport highlight of the year. However, I’d love to see a couple of trial races where they are only a grand prix distance long, probably covering that ground in two hours, with a driver change mandatory around the hour mark. This would lose a lot of the enjoyment of an endurance race, but I would see this as a separate championship, maybe akin to the Blancpain Sprint Series and Blancpain Endurance Series. So a calendar with the WEC as they are now, but then maybe another 8 races of sprints, at Monza and other tracks like that. Then award the WEC as it is now, but have the Sprint Series and the Overall World Prototype 1/2 Championships and World GTE Pro and Am Championships.8th May 2014, 5:53 at 5:53 am #259115
@mathers – USCC did a 2hr sprint race not long ago at Laguna Seca with the DP’s, P2 and some GT cars. It was a VERY good race.8th May 2014, 10:26 at 10:26 am #259126
Well, cricket matches go on for hours. There’s no reason why people won’t watch 6 hours of racing.8th May 2014, 11:35 at 11:35 am #259129
And cricket doesn’t have quite as avid a following as F1 or many other sports. As far as I know, where cricket is most popular they use the short 20/20 form, which lasts around 3 hours.8th May 2014, 13:07 at 1:07 pm #259143
If the races were shorter and there were no driver changes I would watch it. I tried watching the race at Silverstone but it was too long for me. Also I feel no connection to a driver because they’re always changing. Though that’s the sport and it’s unique. Loved by many but not for me.
I would really love a series of LMP1 cars, but each driver has there own car. Shorter races around F1 length.
The LMP1 cars look amazing, decent sounds, teams having more freedom with design, drawing in manufacturers. It’s making F1 look stupid with their ugly noses, DRS and quiet sounds. I understand the green save the earth – relevant to road cars blah blah. I think it’s taking away that amazing feel that Drew me in and many others to F1.
If WEC had shorter races or even was on free TV I would watch it.9th May 2014, 3:25 at 3:25 am #259239
If WEC had shorter races or even was on free TV I would watch it.
Which reminds me, why aren’t the WEC races streaming for free this year? Or did I simply miss that this past weekend?9th May 2014, 4:26 at 4:26 am #259242
Simple answer: No.
George listed one of the main reasons.. It’s mainly a niche event. It could get increasingly popular amongst hardcore racing fans, though. The response to driver changes from a casual fan would be: “Does the race have to be that long? I’m losing interest..”
To have a mass appeal, it needs the chance of a mass audience.. Something Bernie understood by putting F1 into that position. Pre-Bernie, F1 wasn’t the fastest series around – that’s the time where sports cars and can-am had a chance of being the ‘dominant’ form of motor-racing. That ended in the mid-late 80s with the original WEC demise.9th May 2014, 9:36 at 9:36 am #259266
WEC is aired for free in the Netherlands, perhaps that makes a difference. If you can’t properly watch, you’re not going to start liking it more and more.
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