Alonso hits back at questions about his motivation

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ABU DHABI – Fernando Alonso has responded to comments made by Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci about his motivation, saying that the Italian has not been in the F1 operation long enough to make such a judgement.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Alonso will be leaving Ferrari after this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi after five years with the team, making way for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso’s departure marks the end of an era for Ferrari as a new regime is set up under Mattiacci’s leadership. In the team principals’ press conference on Thursday, he implied that Alonso’s motivation and commitment to the marque’s F1 programme may have waned.

“We need to thank Fernando for all he has done for us, what we have done together over the last five years,” Mattiacci said. “But at the same time it is clear to everybody that we want both to open new cycles but it was important to do it with the utmost motivation and commitment.”

Speaking after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday, Alonso said that as Mattiacci only became involved with the F1 operation in April, he was not in a position to pass comment on his drive and motivation.

“I read the comments and thought they weren’t very good,” Alonso said. “If he tried to mean that I was no longer motivated then I think he arrived too late to Ferrari. He has only been here a few months and probably didn’t see all of the five years that I spent here.

“I’ve fought for every single race and for championships. Probably I was too old when he tried to renew me at the Monza race.

“He kept pushing and pushing and we had a lot of talks. Even in the last moment, again, we had a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails that I still have on my computer.

“Probably at that time maybe I was not so old, but when I took my decision I guess he has to find another driver.”

Alonso makes his final appearance as a Ferrari driver later today in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which you can watch live on NBCSN from 7a ET.

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.