Marco Andretti has announced that, for the first time since 2005, he will not be contesting the NTT IndyCar series full time in 2021.
The third-generation racer will remain part of the Andretti Autosport team and will still compete in this year’s upcoming Indianapolis 500, but he will be changing his focus and will look at other driving opportunities that may present themselves.
Andretti will still be a crucial part of testing and development of this year’s car, however. The team will be taking part in a pre-season test at Sebring next week and the 33-year-old will be there as originally planned.
“Upon careful thought over the past couple of months, I have made the decision to make some changes to my racing activities and focus for 2021,” said Andretti in a statement.
“I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my Dad [Michael Andretti] and have spoken at length with him about it. I appreciate his openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward.
“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full IndyCar season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat – to reset – to do something a little different – look at everything fresh and see where that takes me.
“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.
“First and foremost, I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500. It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. Winning the pole there last year was awesome but that isn’t enough – I know that a victory there is in my future so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years.
“As such, I have committed to and am looking forward to running the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport this year. In addition to being squarely focused on the Indy 500, I might also take a look at running some other races on the INDYCAR schedule as the season progresses, in order to remain ‘car fit.’
“I have also offered to help the team with some testing and other activities along the way.
“I also want to do some sports car racing – maybe even get the chance to do IMSA events with my cousin Jarett, which would be a lot of fun for me. Marquee events like the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans would be on that list for sure.
“I am excited for what the future holds for me both on and off the track and, again, am grateful to Dad and Andretti Autosport for allowing me the freedom to change things around as I’d like and to proceed forward a little differently this upcoming season.”
The historic Andretti Autosport team now has a couple race seats to fill ahead of the start of the 2021 season.
Alexander Rossi, Colton Herta, and Ryan Hunter-Reay will all be returning with the team, but Zach Veach and now Marco Andretti have both stepped away from their full-time IndyCar careers.
It is likely that James Hinchcliffe will get one of the available seats after driving a few races with the team late last year, but there is no confirmation as of this time.
Andretti Autosport has fielded at least four full-time cars since 2013, and all indications are that they will field four of five once again this year.
“Marco and I have discussed this at length,” said Michael Andretti, Marco’s father and owner of Andretti Autosport.
“I both support and respect his decision to take a focus on other areas of life, and maybe even other forms of motorsport.
“We were working on a full-season IndyCar entry for him, but he decided he wanted to take a different direction and I respect him for making that decision.
“I think for any multi-generational athlete, it can be really challenging to find your own ground and make your own name on top of your family’s.
“Marco has always had the courage to chart his own path and I’m proud of the career he’s built for himself and the person he’s become. I know this decision wasn’t easy.
“I’m looking forward to having him back with us for the 500, and hopefully maybe a few more races through the season.”