McLaren hopeful for “fresh push and spirit” starting at Barcelona

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After signaling their intent to roll out a series of upgrades all the way into the heart of summer, McLaren surely hopes that what they’ve concocted for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix will lead to better results for drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

Racing director Eric Boullier has had to keep the Woking team from getting discouraged after a subpar Chinese Grand Prix, but the Frenchman says that everyone’s ready to improve their fortunes.

“For us, the weekend will be about learning, and hopefully moving on from our disappointing performance in China last month,” he said. “The root of our under-performance has been comprehensively analyzed; we know the areas where our package falls short, and we’ve taken steps – both short- and long-term – to address those.

“While not all of those will be in evidence in Barcelona this weekend, they mark the start of a fresh push and spirit within the whole organization.”

Button and Magnussen both finished out of the points in Shanghai, marking the culmination of a dramatic fall in performance since they both landed on the podium during the season-opening Grand Prix in Australia.

In his comments, Button said that Barcelona always marks something of a fresh start to the season but this year, it’s an especially important one for him and McLaren.

“For us, it’s not simply about bringing new parts to the circuit: it’s about understanding and unlocking the car’s secrets, and using that understanding to take bigger steps with performance,” the former World Champion said.

“We’re still at the early stages with our car, and, for us, it’s less about the components that we fit to it, and more about the bigger picture – finding a useful direction, gaining trust in our measurements and pushing ahead.”

As for Magnussen, he has fond memories of Barcelona after sweeping the weekend there last year in Formula Renault 3.5 before he made the jump to F1.

He’s anxious to show that McLaren’s learned from their issues.

“I think the problems we encountered in China have definitely given us the data and the impetus we need to make some changes, so I’m keen to get back in the car on Friday and see if we’ve made a step forward,” he said.

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.