Ecclestone saddened by loss of “talented” Bianchi, says: “We must not let this ever happen again”

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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has paid tribute to Jules Bianchi following the Frenchman’s death at the age of 25.

Bianchi died on Friday night following a nine-month fight against a diffuse axonal head injury suffered in an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in October of last year.

Tributes have poured in from all over the world to Bianchi, who spent his entire F1 career with Marussia F1 Team, scoring the only points in its history at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.

In a statement on the official F1 website, Ecclestone expressed his sorrow after hearing the news of Bianchi’s passing.

“It was so sad to hear the news about Jules,” he said.

“We are now going to miss a very talented driver and a really nice person. We must not let this ever happen again.”

Steps have already been taken to prevent a repeat of Bianchi’s accident in the future. The introduction of the Virtual Safety Car in 2015 has been a success, being implemented fully at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago.

However, former grand prix driver David Coulthard believes that it is impossible to remove the inherent danger from motorsport.

“No-one involved in motorsport is ever under the illusion that what they are doing is not dangerous,” Coulthard wrote in his BBC Sport column.

“Although an F1 racer had not suffered a fatality between the deaths of [Ayrton] Senna [in 1994] and Bianchi, there have been several drivers killed in crashes in other categories.

“Danger is an inherent part of life, and depending on your life choices you put yourself either more or less at risk.

“Everyone who steps into a racing car knows that what they are doing could put their life in jeopardy, but they still choose to do it because of what it gives them back.”

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.