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Coulthard: Important not to dumb down perception of F1

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Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard believes that the promoters of the series have a duty to build the hype surrounding it and be vocal about its achievements instead of downplaying it.

In a recent interview with the Daily Mail in Britain, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that he would not pay to watch a grand prix and that the series is “the worst it has ever been”.

Ecclestone later clarified that his comments were intended to be a wake-up call to F1’s stakeholders ahead of a meeting in Geneva at the end of February, but he still came under fire from Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche for being so critical in public.

Coulthard turned his hand to commentary since ending his F1 career in 2008, and he believes that it is crucial for those promoting the sport to do so in as positive a light as possible.

“Well I think everyone has the right to say what they want to say as long as it’s not inciting violence or riots or something,” Coulthard told NBC Sports.

“Should we just say something for the sake of saying something? They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

“I think that we have a duty, whether it’s Bernie or the team principals or the media – we should report what we see, and we should let the public know exactly what we see.

“But that said, if you are a promoter, and you are promoting a musical act, and you go ‘actually, I wouldn’t come and see this lot because they sing out of tune and they’re notoriously late and you leave early’, it’s not a great sell, is it?

“I think as a promoter, and those that have promotional skin in the game, I think it’s their duty to build the hype.”

“We’re a sport, we’re an entertainment, we’re a business, we’re a technology developer. You want to promote the fact that you have developed something special.

“I think it’s in all our interests to make sure we don’t dumb down the perception of the sport, because the race will be what it will be.”

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.