Pirelli defend questionable tire choices in India

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Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery has defended the decision to bring a softer tire allocation to the Indian Grand Prix despite a number of drivers suffering from blistering during practice today.

Many of the runners at the Buddh International Circuit complained of problems with their tires after Pirelli opted to bring a softer tire to the race this weekend, with Kimi Raikkonen being particular vocal on his team radio about the issues. Nevertheless, Hembery has remained defiant, believing that this decision will improve the racing and prevent a one-stop race.

“Essentially we went for softer compounds this time as in 2012 the Indian Grand Prix was just a one-stop race, and the combination we brought this year allows for a two to three stop strategy,” Hembery said. “After what we have seen today, wear and degradation is generally in line with our expectations but there have been some issues with blistering on the soft compound while some drivers ran up to twenty-four laps on the medium tire.”

Hembery is confident that the medium tire will be widely used during the race on Sunday, with the softer compound being used sparingly during qualifying and in the first few laps of the race.

“The medium seems set to be the optimal race tire, while the soft tire should be the one to qualify on, as it has been about 0.8 seconds to a second per lap faster up to now,” he explained. “Assessing the drop-off in performance will be the key to formulating the strategy and the timing of the first pit stop. Consequently, some teams will also be evaluating the potential benefits of starting on the medium.”

However, with the tire wear being so aggressive, we could see a repeat of the qualifying debacle that ensued at the Chinese Grand Prix back in April where there was limited running for the majority of the session on Saturday.

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.