Alonso: Reaching Q2 a nice surprise for McLaren

Leave a comment

Fernando Alonso may not want to be dealing with Q2 eliminations for much longer in Formula 1, but the Spaniard felt that his qualifying result for the Bahrain Grand Prix acted as a nice surprise for the British team.

McLaren has struggled with its new Honda-powered MP4-30 car in 2015, failing to score any points in the first three races of the season.

However, Alonso secured something of a breakthrough for the team in qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday by reaching Q2 for the first time in 2015. The Spaniard eventually qualified in 14th place for tomorrow’s race.

“This weekend has been a nice surprise so far and the car felt better again today,” Alonso said. “We’ve made a step forward, performance-wise. Everything appears to be going in the right direction.

“Of course, we’ll never be happy that our qualifying effort ran out in Q2, but it’s a step forward, and the whole team will and should enjoy this result because they’ve been working so hard to achieve it.”

Alonso was the sole McLaren to run in qualifying, though, as teammate Jenson Button was sidelined by a problem for the third time in the race weekend.

“Tomorrow will be about finishing the race and getting both cars to the flag,” Alonso said. “We’ve had some problems with reliability this weekend, with Jenson’s car, so we need to keep improving in that area.

“We’ll need a bit of luck if we’re to score points tomorrow.”

Button remained upbeat following qualifying in spite of his problem, although he was unsure what exactly caused him to lose power during Q1.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Button said. “It felt a bit similar to what occurred on Friday morning when everything shut down on the car. There was a loud bang, so I pulled over and got out.

“We’ve had quite a few issues this weekend, but the important thing is that we’re improving. Fernando got through to Q2, which is a good step for the team, and it’s just a pity I couldn’t be there as well.

“We knew it was going to be a hard start to the year, and it has been, but, even so, there are more positives than we thought there would be.

“Looking ahead to tomorrow, our race pace is likely to be not too bad. So hopefully we can sort out our reliability glitches ahead of tomorrow and have a decent race.”

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.