Pirelli to test 18-inch rim tires with GP2 car in Barcelona

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MONTMELO – Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery has confirmed that the Italian tire manufacturer will be testing its prototype 18-inch rim tires in Barcelona next week using a GP2 car.

In a bid to make F1 more road relevant, Pirelli tested an 18-inch tire design at Silverstone last July during an in-season test, and received largely positive feedback.

Although the sport has stuck with 13-inch rim tires for the time being, a switch to the 18-inch rim design has been mooted for the next major technical regulation change, expected to come in 2017.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk following the Spanish Grand Prix, Hembery confirmed that Pirelli was still looking into the 18-inch rim designs, and that the next test would be conducted next week in Barcelona.

“Yes, that’s right,” Hembery said when asked by this writer if Pirelli would be testing the prototypes in Barcelona next week using a GP2 car. “We’re doing a little bit more. We’ve carried on some development.

“Our GP2 car will be doing some testing with the 18 inch tires, that’s carried on.

“To be honest we’re doing it because we’ve got other programmes in mind as well, not just F1. It’s good for knowledge acquire. I think it’s more likely we’ll stay with 13 [inches] in F1.”

Hembery did say that the tires could be changed upon the next overhaul of the technical regulations, revealing that a number of plans were already being discussed.

“I think it will be more if we can give some more mechanical grip in the tires that improve the performance,” Hembery said. “We’ve got some ideas up our sleeve anyway for the regulations to throw in some more variables into the sport.”

However, he said that there were no plans to run a demo car using the 18-inch rims at the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

“Not at the moment,” Hembery said. “If we’re asked.”

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.