Stevens unsurprised by Manor’s strong start to life in WEC

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SPA – Will Stevens says that he is not surprised by Manor’s strong start to life in the FIA World Endurance Championship after moving with former Formula 1 team bosses Graeme Lowdon and John Booth for its debut in the series this year.

Lowdon and Booth left the Manor Marussia F1 operation at the end of the 2015 season to set up their very own Manor team in the WEC’s LMP2 class.

Stevens joined Manor after losing his F1 seat, and has enjoyed a strong start to life in the championship as the team has immediately found itself on-pace and competitive.

Stevens said that he was not surprised by how quickly Manor has got to grips with life in the WEC, believing its teamwork to be a key strength.

“No, because the team has got a lot of experience,” Stevens told NBC Sports.

“Everything we’ve done previously to this in F1, it’s all about development. With the Oreca it’s a known car and we know the car works well. It’s just about doing a job with the engineers to find a good balance. We know that technically we can work well together, and I think you can always achieve a good car.

“We know that over one lap the car is good, but we just need to make sure that we get everything right for the race – strategy, pit stops, everything come into it to make the race work.

“The overall car is good. I’m happy with it. We just need to make sure we do a good job in every aspect.”

Stevens already appears to be looking towards a long-term future in the WEC, but he does not feel that there is less pressure in the series than in F1.

“Any pinnacle of motorsport, there’s pressure,” Stevens said.

“Personally I think pressure’s not really a word that I’d use for stuff. If it’s any job or any aspect of a working environment, you always need to achieve the most you can.

“Whenever I get in the car, I always do the best job that I possibly can. Here, I want to achieve still to be at the pinnacle of everything. I think from a personal point of view my attitude towards it doesn’t change.

“F1 is F1 and everyone looks at it more. But I think WEC is now getting more and more established. You can see if you get into LMP1 with a manufacturer, a lot of people are pushing to get to that.

“For me I need to do a good job this year and prove I can compete and be here in this environment, and we’ll see where we end up at the end of the year.”

The no. 45 Oreca car scored Manor’s first WEC podium at Spa over the weekend with Roberto Merhi, Matt Rao and Richard Bradley sharing drive duties en route to third place, while the no. 44 finished eighth in class after a brake issue.

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.