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Gutierrez: Ferrari experience has prepared me well for Haas


Esteban Gutierrez believes that his work as Ferrari’s reserve driver across the course of the 2015 Formula 1 season has prepared him well for a return to a full-time race role with Haas next year.

Gutierrez left Sauber at the end of 2014 after two years of racing in F1 before slotting into a reserve role at Ferrari where he worked under Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

The Mexican was announced as the second driver for NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ eponymous team last month, which will debut in 2016 at the Australian Grand Prix and enjoys a technical partnership with Ferrari.

Despite not starting a race since the end of 2014, Gutierrez is confident that his experience with the Ferrari power unit and work at Maranello over the past year will make him invaluable to Haas during its debut season.

“I believe that I can contribute a lot with my experience, my knowledge of the development of the engine, the gearbox from 2012 to 2013, 2014 when the rules changed dramatically, how it developed from 2014 to 2015,” Gutierrez said.

“I’ve always been driving Ferrari engines so I know all the procedures and everything. I think it’s a very important thing to have.”

Gutierrez thanked Ferrari for its support over the past year and spoke fondly of his time with the team in his reserve role.

“I feel very grateful for this amazing opportunity to be with Ferrari,” Gutierrez said. “It has been a very long season, but at the same time it went by very quickly.

“I have learnt many things from a lot of very good guys in the team, best mechanics, best engineers, two world champions like Sebastian and Kimi, the best team principal, Maurizio [Arrivabene].

“I really want to thank them because they have opened the doors for me to be part of it as a third driver, to contribute as well and to take the most of my experience.

“Now I have a big challenge ahead, that I’m much looking forward to.”

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.