Dennis: No driver contracted to McLaren for 2015

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has said that the team does not have a contract signed with any driver for the 2015 Formula 1 season as speculation continues to suggest that Fernando Alonso is set for a return.

Following yesterday’s shock decision from Sebastian Vettel to leave Red Bull at the end of the season, seemingly bound for Ferrari, Alonso has been marginalized and is now in a far weaker position to the one he was in even a week ago.

Alonso claims that he has known for months what he’ll be doing in 2015, reportedly angling for a return to McLaren where he spent one season back in 2007. However, Dennis reiterated yesterday that the team does not have a deal with the Spaniard for next year, nor with current drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

“We do not have a contract with any driver at this moment in time,” Dennis confirmed in Japan yesterday. “Of course we talk and do all the things you’d expect us to do, but at this moment in time we do not have contracts that we have activated.”

Dennis admitted that this placed a great deal of pressure on both Button and Magnussen, given that Alonso’s presence is likely to force one of them out of McLaren at the end of the season. However, the team CEO stated that his priority was producing a car good enough to win the championship in 2015 after two disappointing seasons.

“It’s not a great position to be in if you’re Jenson or Kevin,” Dennis conceded. “But the reality is they understand our priority is to produce a winning car that they can win with.

“The answer is simple, we don’t have a contract with any driver in respect to next year. That’s a simple factual statement.

“The first thing we have to be is massively attractive to all drivers and I hope we are very attractive to the two drivers who are currently and more than likely will be driving the cars next year.”

After just one season with McLaren, Magnussen will be hoping that he has done enough to secure a sophomore year in F1, but his inexperience could play against him. Although Button is vastly experienced and a former world champion, his age could put McLaren off and may force the Briton into retirement.

Of course, this is all dependent on Alonso’s next move, and following Red Bull’s swift decision to promote Daniil Kvyat, he doesn’t have many to choose from.

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.