Hulkenberg reflects on “amazing experience” in Le Mans

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For Nico Hulkenberg, racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was arguably the experience of a lifetime, let alone winning the thing on his first crack.

And it is one that truly stands alone from his more recent and current experience in Formula 1, now with Sahara Force India.

While he was easily the most recognizable name on a worldwide scale of the three drivers in Porsche Team’s third Porsche 919 Hybrid, the No. 19 car he shared with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, Hulkenberg made sure to give proper credit to his two teammates.

The German was the one tasked with bringing the car home in the final stint, and reflected on his emotions as it happened.

“It was so weird to go slower, so I wouldn’t do one more lap,” Hulkenberg said in the post-race press conference. “I slowed right down… we got the nice finish and picture.

“When you see the thousands of people here, it’s an amazing experience. It’s so amazing and great to get to do it.

“I’m really happy I’ve done it, and to do so with these two legends (Tandy and Bamber) straight away.”

Hulkenberg said he didn’t mind working through traffic, but he appreciated what drivers in endurance racing have to do on a consistent lap-by-lap basis.

“There was no major concern, but it is a massive task,” he said. “It’s very easy to have an accident in traffic. So many things can go wrong. You hope to stay clean.”

Later on, Hulkenberg was inevitably asked an F1-related question, and whether F1 should learn from Le Mans.

Ever the politically correct diplomat, Hulkenberg darted around a direct answer like he did around GTE cars during the race.

“There are some good things here. There are some things in F1 that can be worked on,” Hulkenberg said.

“I’m fortunate to have both of these opportunities.”

Asked whether he’d be able to come back next year, Hulkenberg simply said “we’ll see,” but you’d have to figure that Porsche will be keen on having its now Le Mans-winning lineup back with a chance to defend, assuming schedules allow.

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.