Pirelli predicting one-stop race in Austin

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Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has said that he expects tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix (live from 1pm ET on NBC) to be a one-stop race thanks to the durability of the tires brought to the race at the Circuit of the Americas.

The Italian tire manufacturer has brought its hard and medium compound tires to the race as per 2012, where race winner Lewis Hamilton and the majority of other runners utilized a one-stop strategy. Although Hembery thinks that some drivers could try and make a two-stop strategy work, he believes more will stop just once.

“From what we can see so far, we could well be looking at a one-stop race for most runners, as was the case last year, although some may try two stops if they feel it offers a speed advantage,” Hembery said. “Wear and degradation is where we would expect it to be: the medium tire will be the one to qualify on, while we’re seeing very little degradation on the hard tire – which is just under a second slower than the medium tire at the moment. That’s a big enough gap for strategy to make a difference, particularly for the drivers who start outside the top ten and are not obliged to begin the race with the tires they qualified on.”

Hembery also believes that the predicted increase in temperature will help the teams as the track becomes grippier in the second grand prix held at the circuit.

“We saw a wide variety of weather conditions today, but we’re expecting temperatures to climb over the rest of the weekend, which of course makes it more difficult for the teams when it comes to predicting tire behaviour and therefore strategy. In addition, we saw the track evolving throughout both sessions, with the times getting progressively faster.”

Pirelli is expected to sign a new contract to continue as Formula One’s tire supplier in 2014 despite a turbulent year.

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.