Maria De Villota returns to paddock at Barcelona

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For the first time since losing her right eye and almost her life in a testing accident last summer, Spanish driver Maria de Villota visited the Formula One paddock at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

De Villota was anxious to make her return, telling the Associated Press that she couldn’t sleep the night before because she wondered how it would make her feel. Upon going through the paddock, she got to speak with fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Sergio Perez, but she encountered multiple emotions as well.

“It’s a mix of adrenaline and also a little bit of sadness,” she told the AP’s Jerome Pugmire at the Circuit de Catalunya. “It’s a great weekend but on the other hand it’s also not easy. But I think I’m going to enjoy [the race] on Sunday.”

On July 3, 2012, De Villota suffered extensive head and facial injuries after crashing a Marussia machine into a support truck during straight-line testing at Duxford Aerodrome in England. She underwent multiple surgeries and doctors continue to keep tabs on her progress.

However, even though her F1 career was cut short, De Villota continues to look toward the bright side.

“When you realize you have a second chance in life, you don’t have any other way to live it than with a big smile in your face,” said De Villota, who still considers motorsports as her “escape.”

According to the AP, De Villota is currently focusing on raising funds for the Ana Carolina Diez Mahou Foundation, which serves children stricken with mitochondrial and neuromuscular diseases.

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.