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Alonso confident McLaren will return to Le Mans in the future

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Fernando Alonso is impressed by new McLaren boss Zak Brown’s more open approach to racing in other categories, and is confident that the British marque will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

Following the end of Ron Dennis’ 35-year reign of McLaren, Brown officially became executive director of the company in December last year.

The American businessman has already made widespread changes to the company, the most significant being the decision to allow Alonso to enter the Indianapolis 500 later this month and skip the Monaco Grand Prix.

When asked about the difference in approach between Brown and Dennis, Alonso said that McLaren’s new chief has a more open approach that is felt throughout the team.

“I think they are very different and I think there is a not a magic solution, or a magic way to lead a team to success,” Alonso said.

“Ron had a fantastic time in the past in McLaren with a lot of success, and now with Zak things are a little bit more open, inside the team but also for you guys, outside, how you can approach McLaren now is different, on the commercial side, also in a technical side.”

Alonso also praised Brown’s vision for McLaren in categories beyond F1, stating his belief that the team will feature more in the Indy 500 in the future and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans one day.

“I think also with Zak the biggest difference is the vision and the approach for the brand, for McLaren, which is a little bit different and wants to span the McLaren in different worlds and different categories,” Alonso said.

“We’ll see with the Indy 500, I think it is not only this year. I think McLaren will be in the Indy 500 for the future. I think McLaren will be in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future, as they were in the past, when they won the Indy 500, when they won Le Mans.

“So that’s the biggest change we can feel inside McLaren, that Zak will not only concentrate in Formula 1, will concentrate in McLaren as a race team in different series.

“And the most important thing is obviously to sell cars and to sell the McLaren cars you need to open to new markets and especially the US market is probably the biggest one.”

McLaren famously won Le Mans back in 1995 with its F1 GTR car, but has not featured at the Circuit de la Sarthe since 1998.

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.