F1 Lewis Hamilton contract
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Lewis Hamilton uncomfortable negotiating new deal during pandemic

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SILVERSTONE, England — Lewis Hamilton feels uncomfortable negotiating with Mercedes over a lucrative new F1 contract as the world struggles during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Formula One world champion’s deal is up for renewal after this year.

“Honestly, it doesn’t feel like the right time to sit down and talk about it,” said Hamilton, who heads into Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone with a 30-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship.

“When you think about so many people in the world who have lost their jobs and people who are now unemployed, to sit down and negotiate a big contract doesn’t feel like the most important thing that I need to apply time to at this second. I don’t feel comfortable about it so I am going to wait a little bit longer.”

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as F1 tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season. This Sunday’s event is being called the 70th Anniversary GP to mark the sport’s landmark year.

Mercedes announced Thursday that Bottas will be retained for a fifth season. Given Mercedes’ imperious dominance, the Finn is providing the sole challenge to Hamilton.

Hamilton is on course to match Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven world championships this season.

“I do want to continue with this team and it is not a big effort for us to sit down and get it done,” the 35-year-old Hamilton said. “I am not talking to anyone else. I am looking forward to continuing, particularly as we have just started a new chapter of how we educate ourselves and how we understand what we are going to do in terms of being more diverse and more inclusive. I am super excited with what is possible with Mercedes and this team moving forward. It will get done at some stage, so I am not stressed.”

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.