Lewis Hamilton a cut above in final day of Bahrain testing

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Capping a stellar run this week at the Bahrain International Circuit for Mercedes, Bahrain Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton paced today’s second and final day of Formula One testing.

Hamilton logged a lap of 1 minute, 34.136 seconds and turned 120 laps in the Mercedes W05. His time was 1.4 seconds ahead of the second-fastest time, which was set at 1 minute, 35.557 seconds by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Mercedes later confirmed that Hamilton’s hot lap was set on a development tire from Pirelli, which got good use out of both Merc and Williams (with driver Felipe Nasr):

Yesterday, Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg – who finished second to the former World Champion in the Grand Prix after a spirited late-race duel – topped the charts in Day 1 of the Bahrain test with a lap of 1 minute, 35.697 seconds.

McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen was third-fastest today despite sustaining a suspension failure that threw him into a gravel trap before the lunch break.

Fourth-quickest was Sergio Perez of Force India, who turned in a 63-lap day, and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the Top 5 – albeit at almost 3.2 seconds off the pace of Hamilton.

Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was sixth on the charts, with the second-highest total of laps at 93. Giedo van der Garde stepped in for Sauber today and went P7.

Following the Dutchman was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (eighth), who had his day cut short when his F14 T chassis was found to be damaged.

“After the necessary checks were made, the team decided to bring the test to a premature end as a precautionary measure,” the team said in a statement that also disclosed that Alonso was to run a series of “set-up tests, carried out on data based from yesterday.”

Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson was ninth-fastest but got 66 laps in until an electrical problem with his CT05’s Energy Recovery System caused him to stop the car on track and wound up ending his day.

Williams tester Nasr was 10th on the charts, with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean left in last place among the competitors. Like teammate Pastor Maldonado yesterday, he suffered a terminal issue on his Renault power unit.

FORMULA ONE TESTING – BAHRAIN, DAY TWO
Unofficial Times
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 1:34.136, 120 laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso – 1:35.557, 64 laps
3. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren – 1:36.203, 26 laps
4. Sergio Perez, Force India – 1:36.586, 63 laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1:37.310, 67 laps
6. Jules Bianchi, Marussia – 1:37.316, 93 laps
7. Giedo van der Garde, Sauber – 1:37.623, 77 laps
8. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari – 1:37.912, 12 laps
9. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham – 1:39.263, 66 laps
10. Felipe Nasr, Williams – 1:39.879, 64 laps
11. Romain Grosjean, Lotus – 1:43.732, 16 laps

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.