Starting grid for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix

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After 100 years away, grand prix racing will return to Russia today with the inaugural F1 world championship race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Following three straight wins, Britain’s Lewis Hamilton will be gunning to extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship today in Russia. After securing pole position on Saturday, he is well placed to move 17 points clear of teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg at the top of the standings.

However, Rosberg will be an ever-present threat to Hamilton from second place on the grid, and he also has history on his side. The last winner of a grand prix in Russia was also German and also drove a Mercedes-Benz – Willy Scholl’s victory around the streets of St. Petersburg could be harked back to today.

Valtteri Bottas will start the race from P3 after a great effort in qualifying that very nearly saw him upstage the Mercedes drivers ahead. However, as his tires began to wear, he could not keep his car on track in the final part of his hot lap.

Jenson Button and Daniil Kvyat put in some great performances to finish fourth and fifth respectively, with Kvyat living up to the hype on his home race weekend. Both will be keen on converting their grid positions into a good result today.

Further back, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa were less fortunate. Vettel struggled to work with his car after a setup change, and will start the race from 10th place, while Massa suffered a loss of power on his Williams, leaving him 18th in qualifying.

You can watch all of the action from Sochi live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • Pastor Maldonado has been relegated five places on the grid, carried over from his 10-place penalty at the Japanese GP. As this was for an engine infringement, any of the penalty that could not be served is carried over for one further race. He served just five places at Suzuka, so he will serve the remainder this weekend. UPDATE: Maldonado has also changed his gearbox, so will now start last.
  • Nico Hulkenberg, Max Chilton and Kevin Magnussen have all been given five place grid penalties for changing their gearbox.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2014 RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams
4. Jenson Button McLaren
5. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
11. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
12. Sergio Perez Force India
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
14. Adrian Sutil Sauber
15. Romain Grosjean Lotus
16. Marcus Ericsson Caterham
17. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
18. Felipe Massa Williams
19. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
20. Max Chilton Marussia
21. Pastor Maldonado Lotus

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.