More mechanical gremlins for Red Bull, Vettel in Bahrain

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Write off Red Bull at your own peril, given they’re likely to be on form once the Formula One community actually gets to the season opener at Melbourne, Australia next month.

But after the issues encountered in Jerez last month, and two weeks’ work at the factory, more mechanical gremlins popped up in today’s first running in Bahrain. Sebastian Vettel completed only 14 laps before stopping on track.

“We sorted out the issues from Jerez and we were able to do some laps today,” said the four-time defending World Champion, via the team’s official website. “However, very often you fix one problem and another pops up, which is what happened. That’s testing.”

Per veteran F1 journalist Adam Cooper, the issue today was brake-related, and led to a small fire in the rear of the car. It was one of several brakes issues reported.

Race engineering coordinator Andy Damerum said this was different than what occurred at Jerez.

“We are obviously playing catch-up and for us this was very much like a first test, so we were sending the car out to do one lap, then two and trying to build from there,” he said. “In that regard the laps completed were good. However, we were sidelined by a mechanical gremlin but one unrelated to the issues in Jerez.”

The next three days in Bahrain are crucial for Red Bull, as the team needs to get its issues ironed out before the end of the week. Full running at the second Bahrain test, without incident, will be the target at that point.

Vettel is in the car tomorrow as well, with Daniel Ricciardo taking over on Friday.

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.