Magnussen fully preparing for McLaren debut

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As a rookie stepping into one of the top seats in Formula One, Kevin Magnussen is under no illusions about the challenge he’ll face at McLaren in 2014.

The Dane seems to have the right attitude, though, as he has basically been preparing for this role for nearly 20 years.

“McLaren has been part of my life since I was a small kid,” he said in a feature posted to the team’s official website. “My dad, Jan, was a test driver here and did one grand prix with the team back in 1995, but I’ve always dreamt about driving for McLaren. It’ll be incredibly special to be in the car as a racing driver – with the Magnussen name on the side.”

Magnussen is spending the entirety of the winter working with engineers, mechanics and trainers at McLaren’s Technology Center. It’s already been a long process, but Magnussen has sunk his teeth into it.

“Now that I’ve got the race seat, I’m fully focused on the work ahead of me. This winter will be all about preparing myself for the first test in January, and the first race in March. It’s about spending time with the engineers, driving the sim, and getting used to everything. It’s a lot of hard work – but I’m really enjoying it.”

Team members are optimistic that throwing a rookie into a situation with such new rules might actually play to Magnussen’s advantage.

“But this is a brand new formula, so a rookie isn’t as disadvantaged,” said McLaren sporting director Sam Michael. “Even if it doesn’t necessarily give Kevin an advantage, the advantage of all the other drivers is diminished because everyone’s starting from the same benchmark.”

Lewis Hamilton set the bar dramatically high for McLaren rookies, coming just one point shy of the 2007 World Championship. Although McLaren endured a challenging 2013 season, the uncertainty of how teams will master the new regulations may change the playing field.

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.