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McLaren admit interest in Alonso; Perez at risk

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has confirmed that he is interested in signing Fernando Alonso  as the raft of rumors concerning the driver market continue to circulate.

Reports from the paddock broke on Friday evening suggesting that McLaren could be angling to re-sign Alonso, who spent one year with the team back in 2007. Despite finishing third in the championship, a dispute with the team over then-rookie Lewis Hamilton caused the Spaniard to walk away and return to Renault for 2008. However, Whitmarsh is open to bringing Alonso back to the team.

“We’re interested, but at the moment we’ve got to be respectful of what is going in Ferrari and see how it pans out,” Whitmarsh explained after FP1 in Singapore.

“Fernando is under contract as far as I know, so we’ll see what happens there. We’re open to opportunity, and we’ve proved that in the past. No-one expected Jenson to come to us when he did, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Whitmarsh admitted that bringing in another top name to work alongside Button would be desirable, suggesting that Sergio Perez could be dropped by the team after just one season.

“Bringing JB was something that I was delighted to do; to bring another top name like that in would be fantastic. But equally, to be frank, bringing a youngster in and turning him into a champion is pretty nice as well. That’s the great thing about hiring drivers, sometimes it goes well.”

Yesterday in Singapore, both Button and Perez seemed confident that they would be staying at the team for 2014, but in the latter’s case, it appears that he may be under pressure to perform in the coming races.

It is thought that Alonso is unsettled at Ferrari, publicly criticizing the team following the Hungarian Grand Prix and calling them “idiots” over the radio during the race at Monza. Furthermore, the signing of Kimi Raikkonen for 2014 sees the Spaniard lose his ‘number one’ status at Maranello, and, with McLaren and Honda joining forces once again for 2015, he could be poised to make a shock move back to Woking.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.