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Maurizio Arrivabene brands Ecclestone’s cartel comments “ridiculous”

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Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has hit back at Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone’s accusation that the major manufacturers in the series are operating like a cartel.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK last month, Ecclestone said that Ferrari and Mercedes were acting like a cartel by preventing changes being pushed through for F1, such as the introduction of an independent engine supply.

“This sort of thing is what is commonly known as a cartel,” Ecclestone said.

“And cartels are illegal. We are running something that is illegal. On top of all that it is anti-competitive.”

When asked about Ecclestone’s comments during Friday’s FIA team personnel press conference in Australia, Arrivabene called them “ridiculous”.

“I think this talk of a cartel is simply ridiculous. Simply ridiculous,” Arrivabene said.

“Everybody, they are doing their job, they try to do their best. We are talking here about brands who have a long story. They are not going to throw out of the window their story, their reputation for this comment that they don’t deserve even one word.

“I have to say, it’s strange because in this world you have to be careful sometimes because, if you are talking a bit more with somebody, if I’m going to go to the dinner with Toto or Cyril, I do a cartel? It’s simply a dinner!

“We have to learn something from rugby, that when you are in the field, you play very hard, you punch, whatever you have to do. And then afterwards, they go to the dinner and no-one is talking about having a cartel or creating some mismatch during the match. It’s simply ridiculous.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was similarly dismissive, saying that the comments caused a media stir but had no real foundation.

“I don’t think there is any cartel around here, nor is the sport run as a cartel. Bernie is always good for controversy and throwing one in,” Wolff said.

“If that were to run like a cartel we wouldn’t be sitting here. Some of us are part of multi-national global companies and we’re taking compliance very seriously. So it just causes headlines but nothing else.”

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.