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Latest FIA calendars offer no resolution to July 2017 FE/WEC clash

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The latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Vienna has offered no resolution to the clash between Formula E and the FIA World Endurance Championship on the July 16 weekend in 2017.

A number of drivers ply their trade in both Formula E and WEC, including the all-electric series’ defending champion, Sebastien Buemi.

The championships had enjoyed a gentleman’s agreement to avoid clashes so that drivers could complete double duties, but it was confirmed over the summer that both had scheduled rounds for the July 15-16 weekend in 2017.

Despite attempts to fix the situation, WEC CEO Gerard Neveu has said that the planned round at the Nürburgring will go ahead on July 16 as it was the only weekend free for the track. Formula E is set to hit New York City on that same weekend with races on both Saturday and Sunday.

With Formula E also racing in Montreal on July 29-30, the most logical date for the WEC event to slip into was July 23, although the presence of the German Grand Prix caused complications.

There was also the issue of the fact another Automobile Club de l’Ouest-sanctioned championship – the European Le Mans Series – has a race at the Red Bull Ring scheduled for July 23. There is some crossover in personnel between the FIA WEC and ELMS, and that’s why there’s no ELMS races on FIA WEC weekends.

Following the meeting of the WMSC in Vienna earlier this week, the FIA issued a statement on Wednesday featuring 2017 calendars for a number of series including WEC and Formula E, both of which were unchanged.

As a result, for the time being at least, the July 16 clash – and the subsequent headache for any drivers competing in both series – remains.

However, now that the German Grand Prix has officially been dropped from the Formula 1 calendar for 2017, it would appear that the biggest stumbling block for the WEC is that the Nürburgring is already planning to host a Drift Cup event on July 23.

Should this be moved and the series agree to change from its July 16 date, then the clash could surely be avoided and both grids will feature their regular drivers.

July 16 is currently scheduled to be a mammoth day for motorsport, with F1 set to race at Silverstone and IndyCar racing in Toronto besides the Formula E and WEC events.

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.