Polesitter Lewis Hamilton hails Mercedes’ team effort

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Lewis Hamilton has praised his team after claiming pole position for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver managed to edge out Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and teammate Nico Rosberg in the final qualifying session, and the two-time Chinese GP winner was delighted with the result in just his third race for the team.

“I am incredibly happy,” Hamilton said in the post-race press conference. “So happy to have our first pole for some time and I’m just ecstatic really. The lap was great, the team performed well all weekend so far and I really hope we can carry that into tomorrow.”

The result marks Mercedes’ second pole position since their return to the sport in 2010, but Rosberg missed out on the opportunity to join Hamilton on the front row following a mistake at the final corner which saw him finish fourth.

Hamilton admitted that he was pleased with his early qualifying pace, but the challenge of getting the final lap right meant that pole position was never a certainty.

“We had really good pace for Q1 and Q2, but that last lap is really difficult to get. We left it down to three minutes to go or something like that, then you’ve got to get the perfect out lap, the perfect lap to get yourself up there and I really can’t complain about the lap. So I’m really happy.”

The British driver will be looking to take his first win for Mercedes in the race tomorrow having joined the team during the off season. However, the challenge of the Pirelli tires could mean that strategy is crucial, and Hamilton admitted that he was wary of Raikkonen because of this.

“He seems to be able to look after them a little bit better than most people.”

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.