F1 flashback: Michael Schumacher’s first win

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Today marks the 21st anniversary of Michael Schumacher’s first win in Formula One, marking the beginning of a glittering career that would see him become – statistically speaking – the greatest driver in the history of the sport.

Schumacher made his debut for Jordan at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, starting seventh on the grid before retiring early on. However, the German driver made such an impact that he was immediately snapped up by Benetton, going on to score four points in his opening six races for the team. His form improved during his first full season with the team, coming to fruition at Spa-Francorchamps – the location of his debut, his first win and his 300th grand prix in 2012 – on this day in 1992.

In the Camel-liveried Benetton, Schumacher had qualified an excellent third on the grid behind Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. However, he initially failed to put up a challenge to the dominant Williams of Mansell, who had secured the drivers’ championship at the previous race. Come lap thirty, Schumacher was fourth and did not look capable on winning the race as rain came and went frequently. Eventually, he made the decision to pit for slick tires whilst the rest of the field was on wets as the leaders bided their time. This turned out to be a fatal decision for previous-leader Mansell, who came out behind Schumacher when he eventually made the switch. The Williams then suffered from an exhaust failure that caused Mansell a loss of power, allowing Schumacher to pull away and claim his first win in Formula One.

It was indeed the first of many. Schumacher went on to win 91 grands prix and seven world championships before eventually retiring from motor racing at the end of last season, having spent a somewhat unsuccessful spell with Mercedes between 2010 and 2012 that yielded just one podium.

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.