Kovalainen to run in FP1 for Caterham at Bahrain, Spain

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Heikki Kovalainen and Caterham will be reunited starting this weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix, although not in a race seat.

The Finn, who spent three seasons with the team through its iterations as both Lotus Racing and Caterham, will run in free practice one both in Bahrain and in Spain in several weeks.

Kovalainen’s experience will be a necessary asset as Caterham introduces its first round of updates to its 2013 chassis, which so far has been outpaced by the Marussia at the back of the grid. Caterham’s race lineup is the second least experienced on the grid with Charles Pic and rookie Giedo van der Garde.

“It’s obviously great news that I’ll be on track in Bahrain and Spain and I’m really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can,” Kovalainen said in a team release. “I’ll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we’re bringing to those races, and I’ll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package.

“Tony (Fernandes), Cyril (Abiteboul, team principal) and I have been talking about me taking up this role for quite a while, so it’s good to finally be able to announce how I’ll be helping the team in 2013,” he added. “I’m physically ready to get back into the car and I know my experience can help give the team new ideas and options for directions to take on setup and strategy. I’m looking forward to getting back to work!”

American Alexander Rossi was set to run in FP1 at Bahrain, replacing van der Garde. The team release didn’t indicate which driver Kovalainen would fill in for, but Rossi’s news from the release is a switch to Caterham’s GP2 program replacing – incidentally – fellow reserve driver Ma Qing Hua of China.

Kovalainen and Rossi will be Caterham F1’s two official reserve drivers going forward, with Ma’s adjusted plans and official role to be determined at a later date.

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.