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F1 chiefs fail to agree on qualifying change, set next meeting for Thursday


No changes to the current elimination format Formula 1 qualifying system have been agreed following a meeting between the sport’s major stakeholders in Bahrain on Sunday morning.

The much-maligned format made its debut in Australia two weeks ago, but failed to fix any of the problems that it set out to remedy in qualifying.

Team bosses provisionally agreed in Australia to revert back to the 2015 format, only to fail to reach a unanimous decision at an F1 Commission meeting last week, resulting in the eliminations remaining in place for Bahrain.

The format had another underwhelming second run on Saturday ahead of another meeting on Sunday morning, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff saying that his opinion had not changed.

Ahead of Sunday’s summit, Wolff joked: “If somebody puts a block in the system to make us stuck we should publically crucify him in the paddock.”

In a 90-minute meeting featuring all of the team bosses, FIA president Jean Todt and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, no agreement was reached regarding qualifying.

Another meeting has been scheduled for Thursday where alternative formats will be considered, with a return to the 2015-style qualifying not being favored by Todt and Ecclestone.

Reports coming out of the paddock following the meeting suggested that an aggregate qualifying system is being favored, with drivers having their average lap time in each stage of the session decided across two laps.

What does seem certain is that going back to the 2015-style qualifying is no longer an option, leaving F1’s chiefs with a race against time to get a new format agreed on for the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

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.