GP2: Rossi storms to pole position in Monaco qualifying


American driver Alexander Rossi claimed the second pole position of his GP2 Series career in qualifying for the Monaco feature race on Thursday with a supreme display of wet-weather driving.

The Racing Engineering driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.019 to claim pole position by six-tenths of a second over Arthur Pic, having set the pace throughout the second part of qualifying in Monaco on Thursday afternoon.

In order to avoid congestion out on track, the GP2 qualifying session was split into two groups of 13 drivers. Group A had the worst of the weather conditions following heavy rainfall during Formula 1 practice, but Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello made the most of it to top the timesheets by seven-tenths of a second.

With the track drying out for Group B, the advantage was given to the later runners, but it was Rossi who dominated from start to finish. The American driver produced personal best after personal best, continually making the pole position time harder and harder to beat as he tamed the damp track perfectly.

“I think to say I was stressed when I went out is a bit of an understatement,” Rossi said after the session. “Obviously everyone is on the same boat. We were quite pleased with our pace in free practice, but that kind of becomes irrelevant.

“The rain was not what I was hoping for, but from the out-lap, the car felt quite good in spite of the little mistake I made on turn five. It was a very smooth session. It just kept coming better and better.

“I think the track was drying. That was helping me out as well. The session went by quite quick, but towards the end when I knew we were in a good position, I wanted it to finish quickly!”

To avoid putting the Group A runners at too much of a disadvantage, the 13 drivers in this group will take the even-numbered grid slots of the feature race on Friday. As a result, Marciello will start alongside Rossi on the front row of the grid despite his time being only good enough for P12 in Group B.

Starting behind Rossi will be Campos driver Arthur Pic, whilst championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne saw his streak of consecutive poles end at six in Monaco. He will start tomorrow’s feature race from fourth place on the grid.

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.