Alonso cleared of any wrong-doing by stewards

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Fernando Alonso has been cleared of any wrong-doing by the stewards at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after appearing to pass Jean-Eric Vergne off-track during today’s race.

The Spanish driver failed to qualify inside the top ten for the first time since the 2012 European Grand Prix, but he managed to recover during the race to finish fifth ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Force India’s Paul di Resta. However, the post-race investigation meant that he was poised to drop to ninth place behind teammate Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Sergio Perez if he had been found guilty.

After making his late second stop, Alonso came out close to Vergne and Massa who were battling for position at the time. The pit lane and exit at Abu Dhabi is unique with a tunnel leading drivers under the first corner and eventually releasing them on a fast left-hander heading down towards the chicane. On exit, Alonso found himself on the left-hand side of Vergne, but he did not yield position and instead made it past by taking to the kerbing on the inside of the corner.

Soon after this incident, the stewards confirmed that Alonso was under investigation for exceeding track limits and that a verdict would be given after the race.

However, the Spaniard was eventually cleared by the panel led by Martin Donnelly in Abu Dhabi, meaning that he kept hold of fifth place and the ten points he scored. This sees him extend his lead over retiree Kimi Raikkonen in the battle for second place in the drivers’ championship, and it would take a remarkable turnaround to see Alonso squander his thirty-four point lead over the Finn.

Ferrari did lose ground in the constructors’ championship though as Mercedes outscored the Italian marque by seven points. The Silver Arrows are now well-placed to secure the runner-up spot behind champions Red Bull.

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.