GP2: Palmer wins again to surge into commanding lead

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The third round of the 2014 GP2 season took place at Monaco this weekend, and once again it was British driver Jolyon Palmer who dominated proceedings, winning the feature race to surge into a 46-point lead at the top of the championship.

On Sunday, he could only come home in seventh place, but his DAMS teammate Stephane Richelmi kept the team’s flag flying by winning on home soil. The Monegasque racer came under pressure from Sergio Canamasas, but ultimately managed to hang on and claim his first win in GP2.

The feature race on Saturday was quite extraordinary. After a poor start, Palmer dropped to second place behind Mitch Evans, but regained the lead with a great overtake into Sainte Devote. Further back, the action reached fever pitch when Rene Binder and Andre Negrao came together at the Loews hairpin, blocking the track. A red flag was required to clear up the mess, but the race restarted 35 minutes later.

As Palmer and Evans continued to fight for the lead, Stefano Coletti was a man on a mission, quickly coming up through the order. On the super-soft tire, he looked capable of winning the race, but made one brave move too many and collided with Simon Trummer. Ultimately, Palmer managed to hold on ahead of Evans and Williams junior driver Felipe Nasr.

On Sunday, it was all about Richelmi. For the second year in a row, a driver from Monaco had won the GP2 sprint race at home. To cap off a great weekend for DAMS, Norman Nato claimed his maiden win in Formula Renault 3.5, which was also supporting the F1 race.

However, it was another disappointing weekend for the American drivers. Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi could only record best results on 10th and 11th in the sprint race, and both will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes at the next round in Austria in June.

For now though, Palmer is the dominant force. Should he throw it away from here as Coletti did in 2013, it would be a remarkable choke. However, as is the case in GP2, anything can and usually does happen.

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.