Drivers enthusiastic about return of Austrian GP

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After it was announced earlier this week that the Austrian Grand Prix would be returning to the Formula One calendar in 2014, many of the drivers have been quick to welcome its comeback ahead of the race in neighboring Hungary this weekend.

In the drivers’ press conference, Kimi Raikkonen, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez all praised the decision to bring the race back although Raikkonen was the only driver present who had raced on the circuit in an F1 car back in 2003. However, the Finn explained how he was a fan of the circuit.

“I was there maybe two years ago or something the last time,” Raikkonen explained. “It looks slightly different. The circuit is exactly the same, I think. It’s a nice place to go, I think. It’s not a very difficult circuit because it hasn’t got many corners, but it usually produces very good racing because of the layout of the straights and the tight corners. I’m more than happy to go back there.”

Paul di Resta is looking forward to tackling a new event next season having never raced at the circuit before.

“A new event, yeah. I’ve never been there so I don’t know what to expect but it looks a very good track from what Kimi said.”

Esteban Gutierrez, who was just 11 years old when the last Austrian GP was held, is also looking forward to a fresh challenge.

“It looks interesting, obviously another track, hard to know what to expect but it’s always interesting to go to a new place,” the Mexican driver said.

The Red Bull Ring is expected to welcome F1 in July next season, possibly causing the calendar swell to as many as 22 races.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”