Hamilton: Season has exceeded projections thus far

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Lewis Hamilton has said his first season at Mercedes has gone a lot better than he expected. And that’s despite his teammate Nico Rosberg winning twice, while the 2008 Formula One World Champion has yet to convert his Saturday pace into a victory.

“Overall, it has gone a lot better than I expected it would,” he said in his new blog for the BBC. “Coming to the team, I remember the excitement of having something new and fresh, going to the factory, sitting in the mock-up of the car and making a few changes to the way the team went about things.

“From the first race onwards, it has just been great to be up there in the mix at the front. I never expected to be ahead of McLaren, for example. Before I drove the car, I thought it was going to be tough to be in the top 10. I honestly meant that when I said it over the winter – just because the team had had a really difficult end to last season.

“I was thinking it was going to be a tough year.”

Mercedes enters this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix second in the Constructor’s Championship, three points ahead of Ferrari. Hamilton says even more could have been achieved had it not been for poor luck or missed opportunities.

“For me, the ones that are really difficult are the ones where the car was able to win but I missed out for whatever reason,” he said. “The obvious one was Silverstone, where I was leading comfortably until my tire blew. Of course, there have also been other times when I’ve missed out through my own fault, like in Monaco.

Mercedes may be impacted more than most by the new Pirelli compound construction that debuts in Hungary this weekend. The team was barred from participating in the Silverstone young driver test last weekend as punishment for its secret test at Barcelona, and the “tiregate” saga that followed. Still, Hamilton’s had a good year to date and a win later this year would extend his streak of consecutive years with a win to seven.

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.