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Indy 500 on Fernando Alonso’s radar as alternative to F1

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Fernando Alonso is considering racing in the Indianapolis 500 as an alternative to Formula 1, saying that he is “not at all happy” with the direction that the series is going in.

Alonso currently races with McLaren, and although the team has made significant progress in recent months, he has failed to get anywhere near the heights of his heyday with Renault in 2005 and 2006 when he won the world championship.

The Spaniard expressed his disappointment with modern-day F1, with his future seeming to hinge on the overhaul of the technical regulations for 2017.

“I’m not at all happy for some things that are happening,” Alonso told Autosprint in Italy.

“We can never drive the cars to their real limit. We can never attack as much as we would like because the tires don’t allow you to.

“Many things will change next year. Let’s hope the joy of driving will return to be a major factor.

“If F1 carries on going in a different direction to what I knew and loved in the past, at that point I could consider other alternatives and leave F1.”

Alonso has spoken of his desire to race at Le Mans before, but is now also looking at IndyCar, believing it to offer a big change from his current style of racing.

“Le Mans would be the option closest to my driving style and to what I’ve always done,” Alonso said.

“The Indy 500 is a fascinating, radical change because you must learn a completely different driving style and way of thinking.

“I’d be open and ready to learn it because when you have been F1 world champion there are only two other races that are equivalent prestige-wise: the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.”

However, Alonso did acknowledge that it would not be a move he could make in the short-term.

“It would be a plan that would be really long-term in order to be turned to reality,” he said.

Alonso had previously been linked with a drive in Porsche’s third car at Le Mans in 2015, only for Honda to reportedly veto the move.

Nico Hulkenberg’s victory with the German marque did spark the idea of F1 drivers managing ‘double duties’ once again.

Yet with the Indy 500 now clashing with the Monaco Grand Prix most years, and given the extensive testing required, it is unlikely we’ll see Alonso at the Brickyard until his F1 career is over.

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.