Grosjean sends Lotus top on day 2 in Barcelona

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Lotus driver Romain Grosjean finished today’s Formula One test in Barcelona with the quickest time.

Despite lamenting his lack of running yesterday, the Frenchman put the issues to the back of his mind to finish an impressive four-tenths clear of the chasing pack.

The team also suffered an early set back when Grosjean stopped out on track before lunch, so to have responded so emphatically is testament to the raw pace of the E21. It is worth noting that his time was set on the quicker soft tire, whereas some of his rivals elected to focus on their hard tire running today.

Jenson Button was one of the drivers to do so, and he will be pleased with his showing after McLaren suffered a disappointing first day in Barcelona. He led for much of the session, having gone quickest once the rain subsided, but he could not better Grosjean’s benchmark.

Williams were strong once again, finishing third with Pastor Maldonado on the soft Pirelli tire. However, his stoppage towards the end of the session did bring it to an early end. A trio of Germans followed Maldonado, with Vettel, Hulkenburg and the returning Sutil in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. All three will be pleased with their efforts on the harder compounds, and Sutil was running very strongly in the morning session, showing few signs of rustiness.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Chilton finished seventh and eighth, with the Marussia driver very nearly edging out the Toro Rosso late on. Their more serious rivals, Caterham, were once again outpaced by Chilton, with Giedo van der Garde finishing ninth having also brought out the red flag.

Propping up the order were Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso, both of whom decided to focus on race simulations and heavy fuel runs, therefore sacrificing one lap pace and a chance of topping the timesheets.

Unofficial Times

1. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:22.716
2. Jenson Button McLaren 1:23.181 +0.465
3. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:23.628 +0.912
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.743 +1.027
5. Nico Hulkenburg Sauber 1:23.744 +1.028
6. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:24.215 +1.499
7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:25.483 +2.767
8. Max Chilton Marussia 1:25.598 +2.882
9. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:26.316 +3.600
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.655 +3.939
11. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:27.878 +5.162

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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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.