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Jean-Eric Vergne ‘grew up a lot’ after Toro Rosso exit

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BERLIN, Germany – Jean-Eric Vergne has sympathized with former Formula 1 teammate Daniil Kvyat following his demotion from Red Bull to Toro Rosso.

The two drivers raced together at Toro Rosso in 2014 before Red Bull took the decision to promote Kvyat into its senior team ahead of Vergne for the following season.

Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull took the decision to swap Kvyat with Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen for the remainder of the 2016 season.

The move was met with some criticism, but proved to be the right one when Verstappen swept to a debut victory for the team to become the youngest race winner in the history of F1.

Vergne knows first-hand the struggles of racing and being dropped by Red Bull, having been dismissed by Toro Rosso at the end of 2014 to make way for Verstappen.

The Frenchman landed on his feet, securing a test role with Ferrari and a drive in Formula E, but said that he had no advice for Kvyat.

“I don’t have any advice for him to be fair. He seems to know what he’s doing, he thinks he knows what he’s doing,” Vergne told NBC Sports.

“I wish him the best. It’s definitely a tough moment, but he’s a good driver and he can still do something out of it.”

Vergne said that he was pleased with the direction he took following his departure from Toro Rosso, believing that he grew up as a driver in the period that followed.

“I knew I was out of Toro Rosso and I scored my best points finish after that. I’m really happy and glad I went with Ferrari after this,” Vergne said.

“I think I grew up a lot as a driver, I learned a lot. It’s amazing to be with Ferrari at the moment. It’s a great thing.”

When asked if Kvyat had moved up to Red Bull too soon, Vergne said: “It’s not up to me to judge. I think results can judge by themselves.

“He did a podium in China, yeah it’s great. But Max in his first race scored a win, so…”

Vergne was full of praise for Verstappen following his maiden victory, believing it to be a positive story for F1 as a whole.

“I think Max is an incredible driver. He has proven it in his first race,” Vergne said.

“I knew before they did it that they were right. They proved to be right.

“I think it’s great to see Max performing like this. He’s a nice guy, I get along very well with him. I’m happy for him, for Red Bull, but mainly for him.

“It’s great for the sport to see something like this happening.”

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.