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Sauber hoping to confirm 2018 F1 line-up in Abu Dhabi

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Sauber hopes to be in a position to confirm its 2018 Formula 1 line-up at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time as talks with Ferrari regarding its junior drivers continue.

Sauber announced in July it had struck a new, expanded partnership with Ferrari that will see it enjoy current-year power units from 2018, with the Italian marque also set to place at least one of its juniors at the team.

Formula 2 champion and Ferrari-backed junior Charles Leclerc is expected to take at least one of Sauber’s seats, having featured in practice for the team in Malaysia, the USA, Mexico and Brazil.

Fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi raced as a stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber in Australia and China, and is also in contention for a seat, although Marcus Ericsson may be retained due to his links to the teams owners.

Asked when an announcement could be expected, Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur said he hoped to have the 2018 line-up finalized in the next two weeks in order to go public with the news in Abu Dhabi.

“We will do the announcement, I hope, in Abu Dhabi. For sure we’ll do it before Melbourne next year, and I won’t postpone it each week,” Vasseur said.

“But I think Charles is doing a good job. The situation in FP1 is not an easy one because the first target is to avoid crashing.

“He’s consistent and he always shows a strong pace, and he’s doing a good job.”

With a Leclerc/Ericsson or Leclerc/Giovinazzi line-up likely at Sauber next year, Mercedes youngster Wehrlein faces an uncertain F1 future, with Williams the only possible seat for him to take if he is to remain in the sport.

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.