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Williams would have ‘loved’ to sign Button for 2017

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Williams Formula 1 deputy team principal Claire Williams says she “would have loved” to have signed Jenson Button for the 2017 season before the Briton signed a new deal with McLaren.

Button made his F1 debut with Williams back in 2000, and was linked with a return to the British team for 2017 upon the expiration of his McLaren contract.

Over the Italian Grand Prix weekend, current Williams driver Felipe Massa confirmed he would be retiring from F1 at the end of the season, freeing up a seat at the team.

However, Button announced with McLaren the next day that he had signed a new two-year deal that will see him work as the team’s reserve driver and ambassador in 2017, allowing Stoffel Vandoorne to step up into a race seat.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Williams admitted that the team had been interested in bringing Button back for 2017.

“Everyone knows that we were quite interested in Jenson,” Williams said.

“Why wouldn’t you be? He’s a great talent and would be a great driver for anyone to have in their team.

“The announcement is a real shame for the sport and comes off the back of Felipe. We’re losing two great drivers from the sport, legends.

“I would have loved to have Jenson in this team, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. I wish him all the best.

“I would have loved to have seen him in Williams. A British driver in a British team has been a dream of mine. You never know, one day.”

Williams is currently mulling over its options for 2017 and is at the heart of the driver market. Valtteri Bottas is expected to continue, but a number of drivers have been linked with the second seat.

Rising star Lance Stroll looks set to clinch the FIA F3 title and has ties to Williams that make him a contender, while current Sauber F1 driver Felipe Nasr has also been named as a candidate for the seat.

Should Williams want a British driver, current development driver Alex Lynn may be an option, his availability still open after failing to land a Formula E seat with Jaguar earlier this month.

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.