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Hamilton: F1 must change to create closer, natural racing

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Lewis Hamilton has joined the call for change in Formula 1 by stressing the importance of close, organic racing.

The sport’s technical regulations are poised to be overhauled in 2017 in a bid to improve the on-track spectacle that has been blamed for dwindling TV figures and track attendances in recent years.

In Thursday’s press conference ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, a number of drivers were asked about the push to better F1 and make the sport faster, widening the gap to support championships such as GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5.

Although Hamilton was not fully aware of the changes that were being put forward for 2017, the Briton said that something definitely needed to be altered to improve the racing in F1.

“I think it does need to change,” Hamilton said. “I’ve not really looked at the changes they’re proposing, to be honest, but it needs to be… for example, with the DRS, it doesn’t feel organic, like natural racing.

“Whatever changes they make, I want to see closer racing. Wheel to wheel racing. It needs to be like go-karting was. If, you know, go-karting, wheel to wheel and those guys following the train overtaking. We need to make Formula 1 a bit more like that somehow.

“I don’t know how they’re going to do it. It needs to be a lot different to what it was in the last 20 years.”

Hamilton’s thoughts were echoed by Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who said that F1 needs to become faster and more exciting for fans to watch.

“F1 should be easily the fastest racing cars in the world and it doesn’t look right some races where we go and GP2s are a few seconds off,” Raikkonen said.

“[F1 cars] should be definitely faster, more like they were in the mid-2000s. I think that’s the way they plan to go and I think it’s more fun for us, it looks much more greater to the spectators.

“But also, they have to make it nicer for all the people. Everybody is complaining it’s boring, it’s this and that. If something doesn’t change nobody will care how the car looks or how fast they are.

“Something has to change, that’s for sure, for F1 to get back more interesting for everybody – but I think it’s a good way to go, make the cars faster and more exciting looking.”

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.