Luck not on McLaren’s side in Canadian GP qualifying

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Sergio Perez and Jenson Button have both rued their poor luck after a difficult qualifying session for McLaren which saw them finish 12th and 14th respectively.

The wet conditions made tackling the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve particularly difficult, with Felipe Massa paying the price for his mistake. However, the subsequent red flag caused problems for many of the drivers including Perez and Button, with the latter missing the checkered flag and failing to set a time in the final part of the session. Perez failed to improve his time and dropped out of the top ten, with the result marking a step backwards for the team from Monaco.

“That was a very tricky session,” Perez said in a team statement. “It was difficult to make the most of things, and, in the end, luck just wasn’t with us.

“The red flag at the end of Q2 affected me just as I was about to set a good time. Then, with only two minutes of the session remaining, I didn’t get a run without traffic – as a result, I couldn’t get my tires up to temperature.”

Similarly, Button also felt that he had simply got unlucky.

“Today’s qualifying was one of those sessions where it either all falls into place for you – or it doesn’t. And we were just out of luck this afternoon.

“We encountered yellow flags, a red flag; and, when the session restarted, I crossed the line about half a second too late to start my final flying lap.”

Button won the Canadian GP in 2011 as he charged from last to first in changeable conditions, and he is hoping for another wet/dry race tomorrow in order to make up for the disappointment in qualifying.

“A race in mixed conditions tomorrow would be good for us,” he said.

McLaren’s hopes of a fourteenth win in Canada may be dead in the water, but a strong points score is certainly still possible for the British team.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”