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Formula One chairman Chase Carey hopes season will start July 5

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PARIS — The Formula One season could start in July despite the first 10 races being canceled or postponed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, F1 chairman Chase Carey said Monday.

The French Grand Prix canceled its race scheduled for June 28 rather than postponing it Monday, making July 5 the targeted start date at the Austrian GP in Spielberg.

“We are now increasingly confident with the progress of our plans to begin our season this summer,” Carey said in a statement. “We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria.”

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The 2020 schedule was already stretched to 22 races, with the inaugural Vietnam GP added to the calendar and the Dutch GP hosting its first race since 1985 as the German GP dropped out.

The season-opening Australian GP on March 15 and the iconic Monaco GP on May 24 were also canceled.

Carey hopes that 15-18 races can take place in Europe through September before moving to “Eurasia, Asia and the Americas.” The season would conclude in the Gulf with the Bahrain GP – initially set for March – and the Abu Dhabi GP.

“We expect the early races to be without fans but hope fans will be part of our events as we move further into the schedule,” Carey said. “We still have to work out many issues like the procedures for the teams and our other partners to enter and operate in each country.”

The British GP is set to follow Austria on July 19 and organizers said they are talking to the government about the viability of holding it without fans.

F1’s finances have taken a hit with so many races called off, and smaller teams especially face an uncertain future. This has led to several discussions about reducing the budget-cap level.

“We have also been working hard with (governing body) FIA and the teams to strengthen the long term future of Formula 1 through an array of new technical, sporting, and financial regulations,” Carey said.

A budget cap of $175 million was agreed last year but teams want it lowered to $150 million for next year – excluding driver salaries and engine costs. But McLaren wants it reduced to $100 million, an initiative which Ferrari opposes.

Some leading drivers, including six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, are in the final year of their contracts.

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.