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Daniel Ricciardo open to NASCAR-style calendar for Formula 1

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Daniel Ricciardo is open to Formula 1 taking a leaf out of NASCAR’s book and fitting more races into a season in order to spend more time behind the wheel of his car.

2016 was the longest season in F1 history, featuring 21 races, but the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, is thought to be considering an expansion to as many as 25 events per year.

NASCAR enjoys a more intense schedule that F1, fitting 36 rounds into a season that lasts from February to November and features very few rest weeks.

When asked if F1 should expand to have more races, Ricciardo was receptive of the idea, believing that the logistical challenge would be the biggest task for teams to grapple with.

“I think it depends on how they structure it. It’s not too many,” Ricciardo said of a potential 25-race calendar.

“NASCAR do 36 or something. It’s a lot but the travel’s a lot less because they’re just in the U.S. So, I think it depends logistically how they do it.

“I like racing. If it means just racing and no testing and less other stuff then… maybe. We spend more days in front of cameras and other things than actually behind the wheel of a racing car.

“I’d be open to the idea.”

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton echoed Ricciardo’s thoughts, but wants the weekend format to be shaken up to offer drivers some variety.

“I think if you asked any member of my team whether they’d want to do more races or less, they’d ask for more,” Hamilton said.

“It is definitely tough on the guys that are traveling but they love it. They’re addicted to it. They love motor racing. I’m like Daniel, I love racing.

“So I’m not opposed to more races but I think they’ve got to change the structure, at least on different weekends. If it’s the same four days for 25 races, I think that would be too much.

“If they spice it up and make a period during the season that’s perhaps more exciting than another, I think there’s a lot they can do.”

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel urged caution, though, believing that F1 has already hit its limit with a 20-race schedule for 2017.

“I think 25 is too many. I think 20 is enough, we don’t need more,” Vettel said.

“I think anything between 16 and 20 is the right number. Also, thinking of the efforts going in from the team point of view.

“For us it’s fairly easy, arriving more or less with hand luggage, doing the job and getting back. I think we’re on the better side. For a lot of the team, for the staff, it’s hard work.

“So, I think we are having enough races.”

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.