Relationship between Maldonado and Williams hits new low

Leave a comment

The relationship between Pastor Maldonado and Williams may have deteriorated drastically over the past few months, but it reached a new low after qualifying for the United States Grand Prix (race live on NBC from 1pm ET) when the Venezuelan driver accused his team of sabotaging his car.

After testing a new configuration of exhaust in Abu Dhabi, the team showed signs of an improved pace during practice on Friday and Saturday morning, but Maldonado failed to live up to this hype during qualifying. Despite being held up by Esteban Gutierrez, he still failed to post a quick enough time to secure a place in Q2. Curiously though, teammate Valtteri Bottas finished Q1 as the quickest driver on track ahead of the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, and a full 1.5 seconds faster than Maldonado.

When asked about the time difference between himself and his teammate in Q1, Maldonado inferred to journalists in Austin that all may not be as it seems.

“I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures,” he said. “You need to ask the team, the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear.”

However, chief engineer Xevi Pujolar believes that the problems were due to the temperature of Maldonado’s tires.

“We didn’t quite get the tire performance with Pastor, but despite starting eigteenth he always makes a good start and fights through on the opening laps, so we still expect him to move forward in the race,” Pujolar said.

This is the latest in a number of recent outbursts by Maldonado against the team, and he is poised to leave at the end of the year to make way for Felipe Massa. However, he said that he was happy to be leaving as he looks to join Lotus as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement.

The Venezuelan driver is unlikely to have won any friends within the team though by making these allegations, nor will he be impressing the teams considering him for a drive in 2014.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.