The nine Formula E drivers affected by the clash between the series’ season finale in Berlin and the Le Mans 24 Hours test day next Sunday will be allowed to miss the usually mandatory World Endurance Championship session, The Race has learned.
The drivers – Sebastien Buemi, Tom Blomqvist, Alexander Sims, Norman Nato, Stoffel Vandoorne, Nyck de Vries, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alex Lynn and Robin Frijns – have known about the clash since March when Formula E announced a heavily modified calendar.
This came about due to several races being cancelled and replacement events such as the Valencia and Puebla rounds plugging the gaps.
Additionally, Berlin was moved to the second weekend of August – which was also where the Le Mans test, which is a mandatory requirement for participating drivers, had ended up.
An added article within the 89th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans supplementary regulations now has a provision for “drivers unable to take part in the test due to an automobile competition – the timing of this competition must prevent the driver from complying with the obligations of the test day”.
It continues: “the driver must send a written request, duly motivated, to a supplied email address at least seven days before the administrative checks of the test day”.
A contribution to expenses of €3000 will be “levied by the ACO, to be paid within 24 hours of the request”.
The move will alleviate concerns expressed before the clarification came that drivers could be compromised by arriving late to the circuit and after the test session.
Eight of the nine FE drivers affected have taken part in at least one Le Mans in the last five years, which is part of the criteria for drivers granted an entry to take part. These drivers are detailed in the so-called appendix 10 list of the drivers that have raced at Le Mans since 2016.
The one driver that will be making his debut at Le Mans, and is therefore not on the appendix 10 list, is the platinum graded Robin Frijns. He is entered in the Team WRT LMP2 entry alongside his regular WEC season team-mates Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi.
Frijns will be able to take part without issue thanks to another clause in the supplementary regulations that benefits platinum categorised drivers.
This is article 13.1.3, which states that “platinum categorised drivers who do not appear on appendix 10 can, upon written request to the sport committee, be exempted from the obligation to drive 10 laps during the test day”.
This is only “if they prove their requirement to participate in another major competition (being subject to the assessment of the sport committee)”.
Frijns though will have to, by regulation, drive a minimum of five full laps during the free practice sessions on the following Wednesday before he is confirmed as being able to compete in the fourth round of the 2021 WEC over the weekend of August 21/22.
Mercedes Formula E driver de Vries – the championship leader going into the finale – was originally slated to drive for the works Toyota team during the Le Mans test day as part of his role as a test and development driver.
He will now skip this duty in favour of the FE title chase, but will take part in the rest of the Le Mans meeting for the G-Drive Racing LMP2 team alongside his team-mates Franco Calapinto and Roman Rusinov.