Wolff feeling ‘close but far away’ to F1 race seat

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MONTMELO – Susie Wolff has explained how she feels both very close and very far away to a full-time seat in Formula 1 following her most recent run-out for Williams during practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday.

In 2014, Wolff became the first female driver in 22 years to take part in a race weekend as she completed running for Williams in practice sessions at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

Despite being promoted to the role of test driver for 2015, Wolff was not in contention to replace Valtteri Bottas when he sustained a back injury in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix earlier this year.

However, she put this disappointment behind her to focus on her first outing of the season in Spain on Friday, where she finished 14th out of 20 runners with a respectable lap time.

“It’s great, everytime you go out, you learn so much,” she said. “It’s frustrating a little bit that I messed up my quickest lap. I had a moment at turn three, and that ultimately cost me two-tenths, which was a bit frustrating, but ultimately I just had to focus on consistency then because it was a nine lap run and there was quite a bit of data to get for the team.

“So overall, it was positive. Could have done some things better, quickest lap could have been better, but it’s always about trying to find that middle ground because the car has to come back in one piece. You can’t take any unnecessary risks out there.”

Wolff has been the leading female driver working within F1 for some time now, but remains realistic about her chances of becoming the first woman since Lella Lombardi in 1976 to start a grand prix.

“It’s very difficult in this environment,” Wolff said. “Like we know, things can change very quickly, but I’m not somebody that lets my head get down.

“I’m completely realistic. Yes, I’m close, but I’m also very, very far away, I know that.

“But ultimately I was just so looking forward to being in a car this morning, because for me, that’s the best part of my job, out there and just driving. That’s the best part and that speaks more than a thousand words can.”

Wolff confirmed that she would be discussing her future with Williams following her next practice run-out at the British Grand Prix in July, and said that she would not continue if she did not think she was making progress or improving in the test role.

“For me, it’s about concentrating on the chances I have in the car, doing a good job first and foremost because that’s ultimately the main focus for me,” Wolff said.

“Then, let’s sit down and see what happens in the winter time. In the same respect, I’ve always said that if I cannot make progress and I cannot improve, I would be the first one to hang up my helmet.

“I’m not going to keep pushing hard if I don’t see any opportunities.”

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.