After his 2014 struggles, can Sebastian Vettel rally in Singapore?


Sebastian Vettel’s defence of the Formula 1 world championship has been a tame one. After winning four titles on the bounce, the German driver’s form has dwindled in 2014, leaving him sixth in the standings with just two podium finishes and not a single win to his name.

Unsurprisingly, in his plight, his strongest critics have come out of the woodwork once again to cite how his success in the past few years has been thanks to the Red Bull car, not the driver. The fact that he is being beaten hands down by teammate Daniel Ricciardo (who has three wins) in 2014 does not help Sebastian’s cause.

However, could next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix be the race where the tide changes?

Vettel’s record at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is second to none. The German driver has won every edition of the race since 2011, and finished a close second to Fernando Alonso in 2010, and he has some very fond memories of racing at this challenging circuit.

“The race track is a bumpy ride and you are being jogged around a lot in the driver’s seat,” Vettel explained. “The circuit is fun but at the same time very challenging. You have to get close to your limits and risk a lot, in order to get the greatest efficiency out of your car.

“The toughest challenges in Singapore are the heat and the amount of turns. The chicanes are very difficult to drive and you barely get to catch your breath. Very important for a fast lap is the last turn before heading to the start finish line. There is an extremely high curb, which you should not hit otherwise the car lifts up.

“My greatest memories are the wins of 2011, 2012 and 2013, because I think it’s one of the toughest races of the year. It’s very long, there’s no space for mistakes and the race just seems to go on forever.”

It’s a challenge, but it is one that Vettel is up to. Red Bull struggled at Monza as the Mercedes-powered cars came to the fore as the track rewarded those with the best engine. However, in Singapore, where aerodynamics are king, the team could bounce back.

Even at Spa, where Daniel Ricciardo claimed a shock victory, the focus always was on Singapore for Red Bull. Adrian Newey said in Belgium that “possibly [in] Singapore we have a chance… I think it goes without saying that the circuits that have the shorter straights are the ones that suit us best.”

Mercedes will still be the team to beat, but don’t be surprised if Vettel can find some of his magic from ’13 to bounce back to the top under the lights next weekend.

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.