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Gutierrez learned ‘a lot of lessons’ from Vettel, Raikkonen at Ferrari

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Esteban Gutierrez may have spent the majority of 2015 outside of a racing car as Ferrari’s reserve driver, but the Mexican driver learned plenty while working under world champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen ahead of his full-time return to Formula 1 in 2016.

Gutierrez walked away from Sauber at the end of 2014 following two full seasons in F1 that yielded just six points following a solitary seventh-place finish at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

The Mexican driver spent the next year with Ferrari in a reserve role, but will return to the grid in 2016 after joining the new Haas F1 Team for its debut season.

Speaking to reporters during his first visit to Haas’ main base in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Gutierrez spoke about his time with Ferrari and said that he learned plenty while working with Vettel and Raikkonen.

When asked how much he spoke with Vettel and Raikkonen, Gutierrez said: “A lot.

“I don’t think that any driver will give you direct advice, because obviously at some point, you become a competitor.

“But it’s true, first to be in the position of a third driver with Ferrari with two world champions like Sebastian and Kimi, and also for them to open the doors for me to have the access to the information, and to have conversations together about the car – the feelings, their opinion – it has given me a lot of perspective. A lot of lessons.

“Because obviously, I was there sitting and had time to observe, to look and to take all the positives from each of them and use that for my experience.”

Despite not being a core part of the Ferrari setup in 2016, Gutierrez still enjoys a good relationship with the Italian marque and is sure he has a successful future at Maranello.

“Yes, I still have good relationships with the teams I’ve raced for, especially with Ferrari,” Gutierrez said.

“We had a fantastic year last season, and we developed a very good relationship together. We’ll be working together through the engines and gearbox.

“So that’s something that makes it very special that I can continue that relationship through a team that I have a big belief, and we have good years ahead.”

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.