Welcome to The Grid, R&T's quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
The 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours Might Run in August to Allow Fan Attendance
For the second time in as many years, COVID-19 may force the 24 Hours of Le Mans to be postponed. But this time, it's being rescheduled to guarantee fan attendance. Racer reports that Le Mans will likely move from its traditional mid-June weekend to August 21-22 this year. Organizers seem to think more people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by that point, allowing the race to safely welcome fans. Last year, Le Mans was held in September behind closed doors for the first time in the race's long history. Typically, Le Mans welcomes over 200,000 fans. But, as Racer points out, the new Le Mans date clashes with the IMSA GT race at VIR, so it's possible that race may have to be moved to accommodate teams like Corvette Racing, which is expected to run the 24-hour classic this year.
How Quality Impacts Jaguar Land Rover Sales
New Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore is making big changes to help save the struggling company, and in interviews with the press, he's been brutally honest about why it's in trouble. Per Automotive News, Bollore said on a conference call that he estimates JLR is losing 100,000 sales a year over quality issues. "The dissatisfaction of our customers was really detrimental to our natural volume. The missed opportunities today are massive," he said. But, Bollore noted that customer complaints are down for 2021 model-year cars, and on the same call, JLR chief designer Gerry McGovern said that quality will improve further with new models as the company is reducing complexity. In other words, there will be fewer things to go wrong.
Haas Formula 1 Prepares for a Difficult 2021 Season
America's Formula 1 team is making a bold bet. For the 2021 season, it's going to run its largely uncompetitive 2020 car (albeit with an upgraded Ferrari engine) and focus solely on developing a new competitor for the upcoming 2022 regulations. Team principal Gunther Steiner explained his logic to Autosport. "You would put a lot of effort in and neglect the future, where there will hopefully be hundreds of races to those regulations, or close to them—there will be modifications to the regulations," Steiner said. "It is quite an obvious way to put your priorities into '22, and that’s what we are going to do." Seemingly simple logic, but it does mean that Haas will endure a year of poor results and bad press. And if other F1 teams prove that they can walk and chew gum at the same time, this will probably seem like a bad decision in hindsight.
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