Azerbaijan set to welcome Formula 1 in 2015; Korea scrapped

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Bernie Ecclestone has said that a deal has been signed with officials in Azerbaijan to take Formula 1 to the capital city of Baku in 2015.

The 83-year-old chief of Formula 1 first expressed an interest in holding a race – most probably the European Grand Prix – at the seaside city in March. Now, a deal has reportedly been signed, and the event will be a direct replacement for the Korean Grand Prix.

“I don’t want to go back there,” Ecclestone told The Independent. “They did a good job with the track but what they forgot to do was build all the things they wanted to build.”

The circuit at Yeongam was located some 4 hours from the capital of Seoul, and plans to build a city around the complex failed to come to fruition. In fact, the most notable event of the four races that took place in Korea was the appearance of the fire marshal’s truck mid-way through last year’s race.

The Indian Grand Prix was also dropped for 2014, but it is thought to still be in the running for an early season slot on the 2015 calendar. However, F1 will never return to Korea, and instead Ecclestone is looking to the future in Azerbaijan.

“Baku has been signed,” he said. “It will start in 2015 and will replace Korea.”

Azerbaijan may seem like an odd location for a grand prix, but other motorsport events have been hosted in Baku such as the FIA GT World Championship.

F1’s global expansion knows no bounds, but the future of the proposed Grand Prix of America in New Jersey and the Mexican Grand Prix is still unknown. Both races claim to have deals to feature on the 2015 calendar, but quite whether they get there is another story.

Likewise, for Baku, it might be a case of holding fire until 2016 to give time for plans to be formulated. Either way, it’s best for us to sharpen up on our Azerbaijani ahead of Formula 1’s next new event.

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.