Hamilton quickest in first practice for Bahrain GP

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Lewis Hamilton has finished fastest in the first practice session ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix as Mercedes once again dominated proceedings on Friday afternoon in Sakhir.

The British driver, who is coming off the back of winning in Malaysia last weekend, posted a fastest time of 1:37.502 to finish two-tenths ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg as Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg were the only drivers to finish within half a second of the Silver Arrows.

Following a noisy GP2 practice on Friday morning, free practice got underway in a somewhat quieter fashion as the drivers kicked off the tenth Bahrain GP race weekend. Most came out early for an installation lap, but Rosberg’s session got off to a bad start as he suffered a loss of power on his car, forcing him to crawl back to the pits. The Mercedes team quickly got to work to fix the problem, and he was soon sent him back on his way.

Robin Frijns and Giedo van der Garde were two of the first drivers to post a time as both enjoyed some running in the session as part of their duties as test drivers for Caterham and Sauber respectively. Similarly, Felipe Nasr stepped in at Williams for Valtteri Bottas, and quickly moved to the top of the timesheets. He was soon displaced once the full-time drivers came out on track, and Daniil Kvyat was the first to lay down a serious benchmark ahead of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. Predictably, Mercedes hit back as Rosberg moved ahead of Kvyat for P1, and he was soon followed by teammate Lewis Hamilton who went fastest by one-tenth of a second. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg popped up into third place with a solid lap time, just two-tenths shy of Hamilton’s

With the excessive heat posing a number of problems in Bahrain, many opted to sit in the pits and limit their running. The race will start at 6pm local time on Sunday, meaning that conditions will be far cooler than in practice.

In a rather bizarre moment, Ferrari was forced to send its mechanics down the pit lane to retrieve Fernando Alonso after he was found to have an odd tire on his car. The team should avoid a penalty as the Spaniard had not joined the track.

With 15 minutes to go, Alonso fitted a set of the quicker medium tires and went fastest of all for Ferrari (with all four tires the same this time around). Hulkenberg improved his time to move up into second place, and these times finally stirred the Mercedes drivers from their garages. Rosberg soon re-established his dominance to move two-tenths of a second clear of Alonso, before Hamilton put another two-tenths over his teammate with seven minutes to go.

Ultimately, this time proved to be unbeatable, handing Mercedes yet another one-two at the top of the timesheets.

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.