Rear wing issue leaves Massa in the wall in Shanghai

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Williams’ hopes of cutting the gap to Ferrari at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix were dented during practice on Friday as Felipe Massa ended his day in the wall following an issue with the rear wing on his car.

The Brazilian driver suffered ‘rear wing stall’ on his car when traveling down the back straight at the Shanghai International Circuit in FP2, causing him to lose control at high speed.

Although he avoided a big crash, the impact with the wall was enough to bring Massa’s day to an early end, much to his frustration.

“The first session went to plan, but this afternoon we had a few issues with the rear wing,” Massa said. “Under braking I lost all grip in the rear tires and as a result the car spun which put me out for the rest of the session.

“We lost a lot of time, but the team made the changes to Valtteri [Bottas]’s rear wing so the same wouldn’t happen to him. We need to have a strong day tomorrow to set ourselves up well for the race.”

Williams had been in the fight to be the ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes at the opening race of the year in Australia, but has since lost ground on Ferrari as the Italian marque goes in search of consecutive wins this weekend.

Head of performance engineering Rob Smedley remained upbeat about Williams’ chances in China though, saying that he will reserve judgement on its place in the pecking order until qualifying on Saturday.

“We completed the majority of our plan today, unfortunately we didn’t get all the data we would have liked to due to Felipe’s spin in the second session,” Smedley said. “The spin was caused by a rear wing stall which was easy to rectify so we were confident when sending Valtteri back out.

“The data and driver feedback from the new parts we have installed seem positive, but there is still more work to do to see where we are in comparison to our rivals ahead of qualifying and the race.”

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3a ET on Saturday.

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.