Full Thursday 2014 Australian Grand Prix FIA Press Conference

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Four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel, fell World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, new Red Bull recruit Daniel Ricciardo, new Williams signing Felipe Massa and McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen participated in Thursday’s press conference.

The full transcript can be found here, via the official Formula One website.

Vettel, whose Red Bull team has had a rough time of it in preseason testing, admitted as such during the press conference without mincing any words.

“It’s obviously a tough step for all the teams, all the drivers, a lot of new things to get used to,” Vettel said. “We know that obviously we’re not in the best shape yet. There are a lot of things we need to solve.”

Hamilton said the new cars aren’t as fun to drive – yet – but they’re just coming into their own.

“Now we’re in a new phase and it’s just something that just takes some time to get used to,” said the Mercedes driver. “The sound, for example, is not as impressive as what we had in the past but once you get all the cars on the track, on the grid, I’m pretty sure it will be impressive for the fans still.”

Alonso admits the same.

“The car itself and the technology that Formula One brought this year are a little bit complex to everyone. We are learning and we are developing the car every day that we work on it,” said the two-time World Champion.

Massa and Ricciardo still look forward to driving with their new teams.

“So many new people arriving – including me. But, I’m pretty motivated,” Massa said. “For sure we can be there. I don’t know how competitive we’re going to be compared to the other teams.”

Adds Ricciardo of his Red Bull shot, “I think for now just focus on what I’ve done the last few years and keep doing what I’ve been doing to get to this point – and then assess it from there and see how it’s going.”

Rookie Magnussen doesn’t underestimate the challenge as he prepares for his first Grand Prix.

“It’s a big job, a big challenge but I think I’m pretty much as ready as you can be these days,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of work over the winter but I’m not underestimating the challenge that I’m facing. It’s a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”

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.