Vettel happy to have finally found some form

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Defending Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel is pleased to have finally found his feet with the new RB10 car after finishing third in the second practice session ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

The German driver endured a nightmarish weekend last time out in Australia, qualifying down in 12th place before retiring after just five laps due to an engine problem. However, the underlying pace of the RB10 car does appear to be good, and Vettel proved this in practice today as he finished within one-tenth of a second of pace-setter Nico Rosberg.

“I think we had a good day,” Vettel explained. “Obviously Friday timings are not the most important thing in the world but it’s good to be up there and in range of the top guys.

“I think we had a decent day, not a completely smooth day for both of us, there are still some things to solve on the software side and the programming, but that’s the way it is. I think we have to learn a lot but all in all, I’m quite happy.”

Vettel had shown signs of an improvement by finishing the first session on Friday in seventh place, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo also fared well to finish inside the top ten in FP2.

Ricciardo is looking to bounce back from his disqualification at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, when a breach of the fuel regulations by Red Bull resulted in him being stripped of second place.

“I think we learned quite a lot about the short run pace this morning,” he said. “We were pretty pleased with the progress we made, but it could have been better with the long runs. I think we’ve got some room for improvement, but that’s what tonight’s for. Reliability was good today, so I think we’re pretty pleased with that.”

The team is however still embroiled in a row with the FIA over its fuel sensors, and suffered yet another failure on this part during practice today.

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.