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Haas: Magnussen was next choice for F1 seat after Grosjean

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Gene Haas has revealed that McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen was his next pick for a seat at his Formula 1 team in 2016 had he failed to sign Romain Grosjean.

Haas F1 Team will make its debut in the sport next year following two years of preparation with current Lotus driver Grosjean and Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas stated from the very beginning that he wanted to sign experienced drivers for 2016, and has achieved exactly that with Grosjean and Gutierrez, who bring a combined total of over six seasons of grand prix racing to Kannapolis.

Grosjean’s signing has drawn praise from most corners due to the Frenchman’s impressive showings in F1 over the past three seasons, marking something of a coup for a rookie team such as Haas.

However, had Grosjean not been signed, Haas has revealed that he would have signed McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen upon his release from the British team.

“We talked to Magnussen, who was a very good candidate,” Haas revealed to the official F1 website.

“He was very well respected by the McLaren team. In fact if Romain had declined we would have taken Magnussen as the primary seat.”

Magnussen raced for McLaren in 2014 before taking up a reserve role after Fernando Alonso’s arrival at Woking, leaving him largely on the sidelines in 2015.

Last month, it was confirmed that Magnussen would be released by McLaren at the end of the year, leaving him on the look-out for a new seat.

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.