Maldonado seeking clean weekend and first points in China

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Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado has set his sights on a trouble-free outing at the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend after a difficult start to the 2015 Formula 1 season.

The Lotus E23 Hybrid car has represented a big step forwards for the team in 2015, with both Maldonado and teammate Romain Grosjean looking capable of points at the first two races in Australia and Malaysia.

However, Maldonado was spun into the wall on the first lap of the Australian Grand Prix after moving up into the top ten off the line, and dropped back in Malaysia due to a puncture on the first lap before retiring from the race late on.

“It was frustrating, especially as by the time I’d caught up with the cars ahead we’d developed an issue with the brakes so it was difficult to attack,” Maldonado said, reflecting on Malaysia.

“It’s racing. I’ve been a bit unlucky, especially in the first corners of the first two races but on the other hand we have a car which is more competitive and this says that we can fight for points through the season.

“The potential of the car is there, we just need to put everything together and the results will come soon.”

Looking ahead to next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, Maldonado is focusing on a clean race that will give him a chance of scoring his first points of the 2015 season.

“We had a couple of small reliability issues [in Malaysia] but the team’s working very hard on this, and we expect to have these resolved by China,” the Venezuelan explained.

“I’m looking forward to getting out in action in Shanghai and hoping for a clean weekend when we should be able to get some points.”

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.