Sebastian Vettel makes surprise cameo debut in Legends Trophy

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The Legends Trophy had a surprising — and rule-bending — cameo in the doubleheader opener of the second round of its virtual championship series.

Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel made his competitive sim racing debut at the virtual version of the Malaysian Grand Prix track where he had four victories in 10 F1 starts from 2008-17.

The Ferrari driver didn’t fare as well racing against several racing legends on rFactor2. The German finished 15th in the first race and 12th in the nightcap, getting caught up in incidents he didn’t cause both times.

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The Legends Trophy is open to former drivers older than 40, but Vettel, 32, was provided a provisional entry from the series, which allows former from Formula 1, IndyCar, sports cars and rally to compete virtually every Saturday at tracks around the world.

Juan Pablo Montoya took the points lead by winning the opener and finishing fifth in the second race.

“It was insane at the start,” said the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, who missed a multicar pileup on the opening lap. “The problem with these cars is that when you touch, the thing takes off everywhere, and you don’t know where you’re going to head out. I just tried to stay out of everybody’s way, and the road kind of cleared for me.

“I was driving and sliding around, and I had a lead of seven seconds. You just think ‘don’t worry’
but even when you say ‘don’t worry’, you’re still about to fly off at the next corner.”

Adrian Fernandez, an 11-time IndyCar winner, won the second race for his first Legends Trophy victory.

Montoya leads with 84 points over Emanuele Pirro (80) and Jenson Button (74) in the five-week series. The champion will have $25,000 donated to his favorite charity.

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.