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Button: F1 should appeal to younger fans like Pokemon Go

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Jenson Button believes that Formula 1 should capture the interest of young fans in a similar fashion to Pokemon Go.

The Pokemon Go mobile app went viral over the summer, using augmented reality technology to make virtual Pokemon appear on the screen of a user’s smartphone, as found on a real-life map.

Since the last grand prix in Italy, F1 has been taken over by Liberty Media Corporation, leading to questions about the future of the sport and the approach its new owners may take to promotion.

Button believes that targeting a younger audience is key, using the popularity of Pokemon Go as an example of what is possible.

“For what I’ve seen they’re interested in getting a much younger audience involved in the sport, which is something we need,” Button told reporters in Singapore.

“The average age is much too high for where it should be considering we have an 18-year-old on the grid.

“I think the average age is high 30s, maybe early 40s. That needs to change. We need to target youngsters and the younger generation.

“This is a very technologically advanced sport, so you would think there would be a lot of interest from youngsters – but there isn’t.

“As soon as youngsters sink their teeth into the sport they’re going to love it.”

Button showed reporters in Singapore a video on his phone of people playing Pokemon Go, as also uploaded to his Instagram account.

“This was last night in the shopping mall. All these people walking one way,” Button explained.

“You know why? Pokemon.

“There must have been 2,000 people all walking to one spot, through the shopping mall, across the road because there’s a Pokemon there to grab.

“Is Formula 1 not more interesting than that? It should be. I think it is.

“If they can get that many people interested at trying to flick something at a yellow dot which isn’t really there, I think we can make Formula 1 better than it is.”

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.