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Button critical of WEC’s Fuji date change

Jenson Button

Jenson Button has added his voice to the growing chorus of frustration after the World Endurance Championship changed the date for the 6 Hours of Fuji.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the change, which was designed to avoid a clash between the WEC event and the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix.

By avoiding the clash, the WEC opened the way for Toyota recruit Fernando Alonso to take part in the race, at a circuit owned by the Japanese marque, on its home soil.

However, it has outraged a number of drivers as, while avoiding a clash with F1, it has reinstated clashes with Petit Le Mans in the United States and SuperGT in Japan.

A number of drivers had been contracted to compete in both WEC and Petit Le Mans events, and now face the decision between competing in the final IMSA round of the season at Road Atlanta, or the Fuji round of the WEC ‘super season’.

“When you take a decision like this you know that always there will be some people who are happy, and some who are not,” WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said following the date change announcement.

“We work always to protect the interests of the championship and this is first and foremost what we took into consideration.

“How could we have someone like Fernando Alonso in our paddock, racing for Toyota, and say we are going to Japan without him in their car?

For Japanese fans, to respect what Toyota is doing, and for the championship as well … Alonso is racing for a World Championship, and to win that he can’t miss a race.

“We understand this causes trouble for some other drivers and my hope – a big hope – is that maybe that IMSA can find a way to move the date, because we have done it before and it’s possible,” he continued.

“We of course informed IMSA about this weeks ago, and they fully understood – believe me they completely understand the added value that a driver can bring.”

IMSA however has stood firm, stating that it cannot change the date of its event owing to logistical and television commitments.

Ironically, SuperGT had previously rescheduled its event in an effort to avoid clashing with the 6 Hours of Fuji.

“It’s a shame that a race is changed for one driver when the change hurts so many other drivers who have contracts in place but also other categories like IMSA and Super GT where a clash will hurt their fan base,” Button opined on Twitter.

His comments follow a number of similar posts from various drivers, who suggested the decision showed a contempt from the organisers to other drivers.

Last December, Button confirmed he would compete in SuperGT this season, marking his first full time competition since retiring from Formula 1 at the end of 2016.

It followed a one-off outing in August in the Suzuka 1000km, where he drove a Team Mugen Honda NSX.

The 6 Hours of Fuji is the fourth round of the 2018/19 WEC ‘super season’, and is now scheduled to take place on October 14.

Speedcafe

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