Alonso rules out 2018 Indy 500 shot if he stays with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso will not race in next year’s Indianapolis 500 if he remains in Formula 1 with McLaren due to the date clash with the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso’s entry to the 101st Indianapolis 500 earlier this year with McLaren-Honda and Andretti Autosport led to speculation he could move into the series full-time in 2018 should no competitive F1 seat become available.

Alonso is out of contract with the ailing McLaren team at the end of this season, having been one of the most vocal critics about its ongoing struggles with current engine partner Honda.

A split between McLaren and Honda is expected to be announced on Friday in Singapore, the British marque picking up a Renault engine supply from 2018, and Alonso will wait for his team to move before considering his F1 future.

“After they take decisions, I will take mine. I want to stay loyal at least to that,” Alonso said.

“I will not make any decisions without them making any decisions first.

“I’m relaxed, happy, and we’ll see what’s going on in the next few weeks.”

When asked directly if IndyCar was an option next year, Alonso said: “There are options everywhere, and they are all very good. You just need to be patient and wait a couple of weeks.”

Alonso’s appearance at Indianapolis acted as part of his bid to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport, also featuring the Monaco Grand Prix (a race he has won twice) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The two-time F1 world champion had to miss this year’s race in Monaco in order to enter the ‘500, something only allowed given McLaren’s lack of competitiveness in F1 at the time.

McLaren executive director Zak Brown said recently that Alonso would likely feature in Monaco next year as the team hoped to be fighting further up the field, closing off a return to the Brickyard.

While Alonso agreed another shot at the ‘500 would not be possible, he dropped strong hints that he would look to race at Le Mans, with the endurance classic having no F1 clash in 2018.

“The Triple Crown is clear target for me in the future, and there are three races there. If the Indy 500 is together with Monaco as we know, there is another one still to complete,” Alonso said.

“I agree with the same thing as Zak said. If I remain in Formula 1, it’s because I believe I can win next year. That will ease the decision a lot because I will be in Monaco because I don’t want to lose any points there.

“My priority is Formula 1, as I said before, winning here. The Triple Crown is in the background.

“There are three races, not only Indy. There are many, many possibilities to do a fantastic 2018.”

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.