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Vettel: ‘Chaotic’ to change F1 qualifying just before Australian GP

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Sebastian Vettel has criticized the decision to revamp Formula 1’s qualifying format less than three weeks before the start of the season in Australia, calling it “chaotic’.

Last week, the F1 Commission unanimously voted in favor of adding quickfire eliminations to qualifying from the start of the 2016 season as part of a shake-up of the existing structure.

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone then revealed that its introduction would be delayed until the Spanish Grand Prix in May as the timing software had not yet been written.

However, the FIA then confirmed that it would be implemented in full from the Australian Grand Prix weekend, with the drivers being briefed on the new format in Barcelona earlier this week.

The decision was finalized on Thursday, just 15 days before it will be put into action for the first time.

Lewis Hamilton said earlier this week that he felt F1 was broken and lacked direction, and although Vettel did not agree fully with this, he said that the qualifying debacle was proof of how unclear the leadership of the series is.

“I don’t think it is broken. I think if you measure in terms of the races, maybe it’s a bit difficult to measure, but in terms of the show, I think Formula 1 is doing fine,” Vettel said.

“In the background, the decisions lately. It is fair to say it is lacking leadership. I think it’s a little bit chaotic if a couple of weeks before the season, you start to reinvent certain rules and formats of qualifying as has been discussed in the last couple of weeks.”

Vettel said that he was not a fan of the new qualifying format, and that his view was shared by the majority of the grid.

“I’m not a fan of qualifying. I think speaking on behalf of all the drivers, no driver is,” Vettel said.

“We don’t get what is wrong with the old qualifying and why to change it. It is important the sport remains a sport.

“I can see the excitement for some people with the introduction of the element of randomness, but I think it’s important for the sport to remain a sport so that in the end, the fastest driver comes out on top, paired with the strongest team.

“That has been in the DNA of Formula 1 forever as far as I can remember. That’s the DNA of the sport, starting from karting. Trying to change that in such an extreme manner I think is the wrong way to go and creates chaos, create criticism amongst us the drivers, amongst the fans.

“So in that regard, it is fair to say it lacks leadership.”

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.