Bernie Ecclestone seeks inquiry into Jules Bianchi crash

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In an interview with The Times (London), Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has called for an inquiry into Saturday’s horrific crash involving Marussia’s Jules Bianchi at the Japanese Grand Prix.

“It’s difficult for me to say what happened and it will be for an inquiry to find out exactly what did go on,” said Ecclestone, who was not at Suzuka Circuit this weekend.

“We have done so much for safety. These days, you see an accident on the track and the driver undoes his safety belt, flips off his steering wheel and jumps out unharmed.

“I have always said that if I was going to have an accident, it would be in a Formula One car because they are the safest in the world. But things happen and we have to find out the cause. This happened to a young man who is very close to us all and that has caused a terrible shock for everyone.

“Our thoughts are with him and his family.”

The Times also says that FIA president Jean Todt asked race director Charlie Whiting for a full internal report on the incident, which at least partly led to Saturday’s race being cut short of the 53-lap distance (other factors included worsening weather conditions and approaching darkness).

The FIA has issued a statement saying that such a report will “aim to be as complete and detailed as possible in order to understand exactly the accident that occurred.”

Earlier this morning, Marussia confirmed that Bianchi was in “critical but stable” condition at the Mie General Hospital with a diffuse axonal injury. Yesterday, an FIA spokesman had said he was “serious but stable.”

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.