Esteban Ocon enjoys ‘exceptional’ F1 test for Lotus

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French youngster Esteban Ocon has enjoyed an ‘exceptional’ first Formula 1 test for Lotus F1 Team as a reward for winning the FIA F3 European Championship in 2014.

Ocon, 18, won the title ahead of Britain’s Tom Blomqvist and Dutch racer Max Verstappen, who has been fast-tracked into F1 for 2015 with Toro Rosso.

Not wishing to be overshadowed by his rival, Ocon enjoyed a very impressive two-day test for Lotus using the two-year-old E20 car in Valencia, Spain.

“The test driving the Lotus F1 Team E20 went really well,” Ocon said. “I had to adapt to the car quite rapidly which I did very well. I felt comfortable with the team straight away and the same with the E20.

“The word I’d use to describe the feeling of driving an F1 car is that it is just quicker. The car was easy to drive, stable and very enjoyable; it is a great car.

“I’m really happy with this two-day test and I hope to the get the opportunity to jump into the F1 car again soon.”

Ocon’s performance won praise from team trackside operations director Alan Permane, who said that his next test won’t be too far away.

“Esteban drove exceptionally well over the course of the last two days, completing every task we asked of him,” he said. “It’s clear he has a lot of talent as he was quickly up to speed and looked comfortable in the car.

“His feedback and aptitude were very promising. I’m sure we will see him in an F1 car again before too long.”

Sauber was also testing in Valencia over the same two-day period, splitting its running between Adderly Fong and Roy Nissany.

“I am very happy that I had the opportunity to test the Sauber C31,” Fong said. “I have achieved my objective to complete 300 km without making any mistakes and at a good speed.

“The car was fantastic to drive, it is a brilliant piece of machinery. With so much horse power and high down force, it is a difficult car to learn, but I was able to improve lap by lap.”

All three drivers completed enough running to get an FIA superlicence required to race in Formula 1.

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.