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Vettel: Lauda wrong to think Ferrari has caught Mercedes

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Sebastian Vettel thinks Niki Lauda is wrong to believe that Ferrari has now matched Mercedes’ engine development and power in Formula 1.

Ferrari has posed the most serious challenge to Mercedes’ dominance throughout 2015, claiming three race wins courtesy of Vettel in a year otherwise dominated by the German marque.

In an interview with Autosprint earlier this week, non-executive chairman Lauda claimed that Mercedes’ advantage had now been eradicated and that Ferrari had achieved engine parity.

However, Vettel believes that Lauda’s claim flatters Ferrari, saying that 2015 would have worked out very differently had it been true.

“Well, as a fact we are not yet a match otherwise this season would have been very different,” Vettel said.

“But I’m very happy, as I said, with the season so far, with the progress we’ve made and also with the things that I think we have in the pipeline for the future.

“Now Niki is usually not the best one to trust, let’s put it this way, he’s changing his opinion very quickly and sometimes what he says makes sense and other times it doesn’t make any sense.

“The more he’s talking about us the better it is for us because he can feel that maybe we’re coming, so hopefully that’s good news.”

Vettel remains optimistic of catching Mercedes for 2016, though, and is buoyed by the work going on behind the scenes at Ferrari in building the new car.

“I can see what’s happening in the background, the work that has gone into this year, the work that is going into next year back in the factory, back in Maranello with all the people,” Vettel said.

“It looks promising and I think we should be able to make a good step forward.

“Now, obviously the most important day is when you put the new car on the track and you see what it does – but that’s still a bit far away.

“For now I think we have two races left and we want to do well and ideally get the best possible results here and in Abu Dhabi.”

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.