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Grid for maiden Formula V8 3.5 season continues to take shape

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The grid for the first Formula V8 3.5 season is beginning to take shape following a series of driver announcements over the past week.

Previously known as Formula Renault 3.5, French manufacturer Renault confirmed last year that it would be withdrawing its support of the series, handing organizational and promotional duties over to Spanish company RPM Racing.

RPM launched a new website for the series earlier this month, confirming that it would be running under the Formula V8 3.5 banner.

2015 vice-champion Matthieu Vaxiviere announced in December that he would be returning to the series in 2016, but a number of other drivers have now also confirmed their entry.

Rising Brazilian star Pietro Fittipaldi will make the jump up to Formula V8 3.5 for 2016 after spending last season in the FIA European Formula 3 series.

Fittipaldi is the grandson of two-time Formula 1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, and will race for defending teams’ champion Fortec.

“I am very pleased to continue working with Fortec in this new chapter of my career,” Fittipaldi said. “The championship will be very competitive, so I know that it’s going to be a big challenge.

“I am confident that we will have a strong package, but we will have to work hard in order to run at the front right from the beginning.”

Spanish team Pons Racing also confirmed its line-up for the coming season earlier this week, signing Dutch racer Beitske Visser for a third year in Formula Renault 3.5.

Visser will be joined at Pons by Aleksander Bosak, who spent 2015 racing in GP3 with Arden.

Finally, Japan’s Yu Kanamaru will return to the 3.5-litre series in 2016 with Teo Martin Motorsport after taking part in six races last year with Pons, scoring a best finish of sixth at Le Mans.

The 2016 Formula V8 3.5 season is due to kick off on April 16 at Motorland Aragon in Spain.

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.