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F1 drivers united behind GPDA letter calling for change

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A number of Formula 1 drivers have expressed their support for the letter issued by the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) last month calling for change in the sport’s governance structure.

Following the patchy implementation of a new qualifying format for the Australian Grand Prix and ongoing discontent with the decisions being taken by F1’s top powers, the GPDA wrote an open letter that called for widespread change.

The letter marked the politicization of the GPDA and a first united call from the drivers for a change in F1’s direction.

A number of drivers expressed their support for the letter ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso saying it is a first step towards helping improve F1.

“I think the letter says everything. We love the sport,” Alonso said.

“We love it so much that maybe we think the last couple of years we’ve been a little bit moving left and right with not a clear direction and we want to help in any of the things the fans want, the drivers want, the sponsors want, that are quite clear in some of the things we’ve been searching in the last couple of years.

“It’s a supporting letter from all of the drivers that we do care about our sport and we would like to get involved in some of the decisions or in some of the things that we could help somehow.

“It’s a start. It’s the way the sport is moving in the last couple of years, maybe we don’t see it completely right.”

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg stressed the importance of keeping fans happy, using the discontent voiced over qualifying as an example.

“We’re all united on this opinion because we love the sport and can see the fans are criticising some aspects that we could do better,” Rosberg said.

“We could be even more exciting as a sport and we want to question whether or not the F1 governance cannot review the process in which decisions are made in all these things to try to get it to a point where we can get some better decisions done and become a more exciting sport.

“There’s recent examples, with this qualifying where the fans are just at home and they’re not happy with it. We’re racing for the fans. Mostly for the fans. That’s the examples that are now the recent cases.

“Even the rules for next year. We’re putting on more downforce although actually we should be trying to help overtaking. More downforce is known for making overtaking and following other cars more difficult. It’s not necessarily the right way.

“With all of these things we are saying that we would like to be more involved, have more of a say, us drivers – so let’s see where this takes us.”

Felipe Massa added: “I totally agree with both of them. All the drivers are united on this letter that you guys saw. We just want to be part of changing, to improve the sport.”

Despite not being a GPDA member, Max Verstappen said that the body’s letter did sum up the thoughts of the entire grid.

“We are all united so it’s not that if you’re [not in the GPDA you’re] not a part of the whole letter,” Verstappen told NBCSN.

“I think all the drivers agreed on that.”

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.