Rosberg rallies to tenth pole position of 2014 in Brazil

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Nico Rosberg has continued his dominant form at the Brazilian Grand Prix by claiming his tenth pole position of the 2014 Formula 1 season at Interlagos today.

After finishing quickest in all three practice sessions, Rosberg managed to find more time when it counted to edge out Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by just 0.033 seconds at the end of Q3 on Saturday.

Williams did appear to be in the running for pole, but Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas ultimately had to settle for P3 and P4 in the final standings as Mercedes’ pace proved to be too much once again in Brazil.

Qualifying began in overcast but dry conditions, allowing the drivers to head out on the soft compound tire early on to post their first lap times. Both of the Mercedes drivers opted against taking on the prime tire, with Rosberg and Hamilton exchanging blows on the softs at the top of the timesheets to pull over a full second clear of the rest of the field at one point. Ultimately, it was Rosberg who had the bragging rights at the end of Q1, finishing fastest by one-tenth of a second.

Having initially braved the medium tire, Williams and McLaren soon made the switch to the softs to ensure that they got through to the second session. Felipe Massa managed to run the Mercedes drivers close at the top of the standings with his final lap, but the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were less fortunate as both drivers dropped out in Q1.

Jean-Eric Vergne was eliminated in the first session for the second week in a row, while Sergio Perez’s lack of Friday running showed as he could qualifying just 17th. He will drop to the back of the grid due to his penalty for the incident with Adrian Sutil in Austin last weekend.

Yet again, Q2 was a session that looked set to be dominated by the Mercedes drivers as both Rosberg and Hamilton headed out on fresh soft tires early on, immediately laying down an impressive pace. Continuing his dominance of the sessions, Rosberg soon established a 0.4 second gap to Hamilton, leaving the Briton with plenty to do ahead of Q3.

Both Mercedes drivers opted not to run for a second time in Q2, allowing Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas to split the Silver Arrows in second and third place respectively, throwing Williams’ hat into the ring for the pole position fight. Despite leaving their running late, both Red Bull drivers managed to get into the top ten, leaving Esteban Gutierrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil and Daniil Kvyat in the dropzone at the end of the session.

At the beginning of Q3 in Brazil, Hamilton and Rosberg were the first two drivers to head out on track and post their first lap times in a bid for pole position. Hamilton managed to produce his fastest lap of the race weekend with his first run, only for Rosberg to go just 0.029 seconds faster, giving the German driver provisional pole.

However, Williams refused to go down quietly. With his first lap, Massa moved to within one-tenth of a second of Rosberg, and with Bottas in fourth place, less than 0.14 seconds separated the top four drivers after the first runs in Q3.

Hamilton looked to have snatched pole position away from his teammate when he went one-tenth of a second faster than Rosberg as the checkered flag fell, only for Rosberg to find an extra 0.033 seconds to take his tenth pole position of the season.

Having both had slow laps, Massa and Bottas opted to pit on their final flyers, leaving them third and fourth for Williams ahead of Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. Kevin Magnussen qualified seventh, with Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen completing the top ten.

With pole position, Rosberg clinched the FIA Pole Trophy for 2014 and also broke Rubens Barrichello’s record for the fastest pole position lap at Interlagos. However, with the smallest of margins separating him and Hamilton, the stage is set for another thrilling fight between the Silver Arrows in Brazil this 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.