Hamilton’s practice lasts just five minutes due to problem (VIDEO)

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He may have been touted by many as the favorite for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, but Lewis Hamilton’s race weekend got off to a disastrous start as his Mercedes W05 car ground to a halt after just five minutes of practice.

The Briton, who enjoyed a fine testing period ahead of the race weekend, was one of the first drivers to exit the pits at the start of the session. A new rule for 2014 sees drivers given a bonus set of tires that can only be used during the first 30 minutes of the session, meaning that many took advantage of this to get out early and post a lap time.

However, whilst completing his installation lap, Hamilton’s car came to a halt because of an oil pressure sensor problem. He was forced to stop his car on the exit of turn ten, bringing out waved yellow flags and requiring a crane to carry the Mercedes away.

Although the team did make efforts to get the car back to the pits, Hamilton eventually changed out of his race suit and was forced to sit out for the remainder of the session.

Interestingly, when walking back to the pits, Hamilton kept his helmet on and refused to talk to the media. However, a security official tried to get the driver to present his paddock pass, but he was quickly brushed aside.

Hamilton will be hoping to make up for lost time during the second free practice session, which is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET.

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.