Alonso: McLaren set for “huge step” in Barcelona


Fernando Alonso believes that McLaren will make a “huge step” at the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks’ time following its worst ever start to a Formula 1 season.

The British team currently sits tenth in the constructors’ championship without a single point to its name after a difficult start to life with new engine supplier, Honda.

Throughout winter testing and the first four races of the season, McLaren has encountered a number of teething problems with the power unit, resulting in two retirements and two pre-race failures that reduced the team to a one-car effort in Australia and Bahrain.

However, Alonso is pleased with the progress that is being made with the MP4-30 car, and remains confident that the team can make another big step forwards at his home race on May 10.

“We are all united,” he told the official Formula 1 website. “We are all grown up and committed to this project.

“Nobody is panicking in this tough moment, and panicking can be very easy in such a tough situation.

“I predict that in Barcelona we will see the first huge step and also the power effect is low in Monaco so we should also have a good race there.

“My prediction is that the next three races will be very interesting for us. The steps that we’ve made since Melbourne all point in the right direction. We will be working flat out to increase the performance for Barcelona.

“And the odds indicate that we should. I am optimistic, even if I am aware of the fact that still a lot needs to be done.”

Alonso came close to scoring McLaren’s first points of the season at the last race in Bahrain, finishing less than four seconds behind Felipe Massa in tenth place.

However, the plight of teammate Jenson Button – who suffered three breakdowns in four sessions and missed the race due to a recurring electrical problem – brought McLaren back down to earth last weekend, making the work that it must do ahead of the race in Barcelona clear.

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.