Nico Hulkenberg looks set to be denied the chance to defend his Le Mans 24 Hours title after the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe in Azerbaijan was moved to coincide with the endurance classic.

Part of several changes to the provisional 2016 Formula 1 calendar, the first F1 race to take place on the streets of the Azerbaijani capital city in Baku has been brought forward by almost a month as part of a back-to-back with the Canadian Grand Prix.

Now taking place on June 17-19, the change of date means it will clash with the 2016 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours now. Traditionally, F1 has attempted to avoid a clash with the iconic event, but a pressure to reinstate the summer break has seen several shifts in the mid-season to compensate..

The FIA has, however, said the start of the F1 race will be shifted to ensure it doesn't coincide with the 15.00 CET finishing time of the round-the-clock event.

Significantly, if the date is approved later in the year it will mean Force India driver Hulkenberg - who famously contributed to Porsche's historic 2015 win alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber -, will be unable to return in 2016 to defend his crown.

Having been confirmed as staying with Force India for 2016 in August, Hulkenberg said at the time he was positive he would be permitted to race at Le Mans again, while Porsche had also indicated a desire to run him again too.

With other F1 drivers also ruled out of competing, the door could thus be opened for Juan Pablo Montoya to take up his spot. The Colombian has indicated a desire to race at Le Mans in an attempt to become only the second driver to secure the dubbed 'triple crown' of wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.



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