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Hamilton: No plans to take knee at USGP despite support for protests

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Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he has no plans to take a knee during the national anthem ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, but has reiterated his support for the recent protests through professional sports.

A number of peaceful protests during the American national anthem have taken place at NFL games in recent weeks to protest civil rights abuses in a bid for social change in the United States, as started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Hamilton revealed in an interview last month he was considering taking a knee during the American national anthem ahead of this weekend’s race in Austin, Texas, having repeatedly expressed his support for the movement.

However, the Mercedes driver has no plans to do so at the moment, as he said during Thursday’s FIA press conference at the Circuit of The Americas.

“I don’t really have a position, and I don’t have any plans,” Hamilton said, before expressing his continued support for those protesting.

“Of course there has been a lot of mention of it – not of kneeling, just the whole situation – and I know a lot of people here in America, both black and white people who live in America.

“So I get quite a good view of what is happening here and opinions here in the States about the movement which I think is pretty huge.

“I’ve posted about it because I respect it highly and I find the movement that Kaepernick started is awesome. I’m very much in support of it.

“I am here to win, and that is part of my priority at the moment and what I am focused on at the moment.”

Hamilton can clinch his fourth F1 title in Austin this weekend if he outscores Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 16 points, but the Briton stressed he is not focusing on wrapping up the championship early.

“I think the talk of the championship win this weekend is silly really. You can’t expect [Ferrari] to have a difficult weekend again, they are going to be quick and will have an opportunity to win,” Hamilton said.

“The championship – as long as it is done in the next four races, that is my focus. I honestly couldn’t care less if it was here or the last race just as long as it is done.

“I think winning here is the most important thing for me, particularly in the heat of all that is going on in this country. I think that is a priority for me.”

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.