Nico Hülkenberg’s victory at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans is arguably the biggest sensation of the motorsport season so far. The German driver became the first current Formula 1 driver to compete at Le Mans since Sebastian Bourdais in 2009, and the first to win at La Sarthe since Johnny Herbert in the Mazda 787B in 1991.
Hülkenberg has already confirmed that he would be staying at Force India next season, and as team boss Vijay Mallya gave the German permission to race at Le Mans this year, it was assumed that Hülkenberg would return to the twice-round-the-clock classic for Porsche in 2016.
However, the latest provisional calendar from the FIA and Formula 1 seems to have torpedoed those plans. There is now a direct clash between the inaugural F1 Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, despite the FIA promising that F1 races would never be scheduled on the same weekend as the famous French endurance race.
The calendar remains provisional, and changes are certainly possible before the end of the year. Last season, the Korean Grand Prix was provisionally scheduled for the weekend of the 6 Hours of Spa, which would have Hülkenberg out of competing in the third Porsche in Belgium before Le Mans.
However, as things stand, Porsche will have to find a replacement for the reigning champion.