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Wehrlein remains hopeful of F1 seat in 2016

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LONDON – 2015 DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein remains hopeful of securing a seat in Formula 1 next year as speculation of a drive with Manor continues to grow.

Wehrlein became the youngest champion in DTM’s history at Hockenheim last month with Mercedes, while also balancing his commitments with a reserve role in Formula 1 for the German marque.

After completing successful tests with Mercedes and Force India over the past year, Wehrlein has since been linked with a drive at Manor for 2016.

The British backmarker team has the last two remaining seats on the 2016 grid, and has also recently signed a power unit deal with Mercedes for 2016.

Speaking at the Race of Champions on Friday in London, Wehrlein remained coy about his chances, but remains hopeful of making it onto the grid.

“Not yet,” he said when asked if there was news on his future. “I would like to drive Formula 1, that’s my target, but it’s not so easy at the moment.

“But nothing to talk about, so no news. I hope that I will get the drive in Formula 1, but at the moment I can’t say anything.”

Wehrlein lost out in the quarter-finals of Saturday’s Race of Champions Nations Cup in London, racing for Team Young Stars alongside Lotus F1 test driver Jolyon Palmer.

Wehrlein won both of his first round races against Romain Grosjean and Olympic cycling legend Chris Hoy, but his defeat to Andy Priaulx saw the Young Stars team drop out at the hands of eventual winners Team England.

Wehrlein returns to the Race of Champions on Saturday to compete for individual honors, facing Priaulx once again in the first round.

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.