Bottas stars, Maldonado stumbles for Williams in Austin (VIDEO)

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Valtteri Bottas has concluded his excellent United States Grand Prix weekend with his first career Formula One World Championship points. The Finn started ninth and finished eighth to record Williams’ best result of its challenging 2013 season. Prior to today, a 10th from teammate Pastor Maldonado in Hungary was the team’s only points-scoring finish of the season.

On paper that sounds simple, but Bottas delivered the overtaking maneuver of the race when he passed Esteban Gutierrez’ Sauber for eighth place on the outside exiting the downhill plunge through Turn 2. Twitter immediately lit up with reactions praising the move and Bottas’ commitment.

Bottas also held off a late-race charge from Nico Rosberg for the position. “Yes! Yeah! Finally!” was the radio response from Bottas to his team.

It also capped a weekend where the official “changing of the guard” occurred at the Williams Renault squad. While Bottas starred, Maldonado struggled mightily.

The Venezuelan contacted Adrian Sutil on the first lap, which sent the luckless German’s Force India into the inside guardrail on the backstraight. Maldonado’s left front wing endplate was damaged and he was issued a black and orange flag, an order to pit immediately to repair the wounded chassis.

From there Maldonado emerged at the back of the field behind even Max Chilton’s Marussia – it took several laps to get past. He ended the race 16th, after falling victim to a gutsy pass by Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus, and far outside the points on a weekend where he suggested the team had intentionally sabotaged his car.

With Bottas’ star on the rise, not even Maldonado’s millions from the Venezuelan government might be enough to keep his place on the grid in 2014.

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.