Sergio Perez charges from mid-pack to hit the points

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Sergio Perez made a successful rally Sunday in the Chinese Grand Prix, finishing ninth to ensure another double-points finish for Sahara Force India.

The Mexican driver was coming off a podium finish at Bahrain and had hoped to keep up the momentum in Shanghai. But he admitted to having struggles with car balance and a dismal qualifying left him starting 16th on the grid.

However, both Perez and teammate Nico Hulkenberg (who finished sixth) managed to pull off a two-stop strategy despite the widespread issue of graining on the Pirelli tires.

“To start from P16 and finish in ninth place is a good recovery after a difficult qualifying session [Saturday],” Perez said. “I made a good start and after that I just focused on making the two-stop strategy work. I think everybody suffered with tire graining and I picked up a few flat spots, but we still made it work.

“It was not easy to overtake today, even the cars on a different strategy, so I think ninth place was the maximum.”

But despite the double points run for Force India, the Silverstone group still dropped to third in the team standings behind all-conquering Mercedes and new second-place squad Red Bull.

According to Perez, it’s a sign that his team needs to push further to cement itself as “best of the rest” behind Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and the “Silver Arrows.”

“…I was hoping for more today after the weekend we had in Bahrain,” Perez said. “It’s also clear that all the teams around us are finding pace so we have to keep working hard to be ready for Barcelona.”

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.