Alonso: McLaren “too fragile at the moment”

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Fernando Alonso believes that McLaren is still “too fragile” after suffering yet another problem on his car during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday.

Alonso was forced to park his car up during Q2 without having set a time in the session, leaving him 15th overall in the final qualifying order.

The Spaniard will make up two places by virtue of Romain Grosjean’s grid penalty and Carlos saint Jr’s exclusion from qualifying, meaning that he will start the Monaco Grand Prix from 13th place.

Speaking after the session on Saturday, Alonso revealed that McLaren was unsure what the problem on his car was, but remained upbeat about the team’s progress.

“We don’t exactly know what happened to my car in Q2,” Alonso said. “I guess it was something electrical because the car switched itself off in the middle of the straight. I had no power, no electrics, and no readout on the steering wheel.

“But, overall, the team’s performance has been better this weekend, and Jenson [Button] at least has the opportunity to score a few points tomorrow.”

However, Alonso has written off his own chances of points, believing that he will struggle to make up any positions during the race due to the lack of overtaking around the tight Monegasque streets.

The Spaniard also said that the team remained too weak as its struggles since switching to Honda power units for the 2015 season continued.

“I don’t wish to sound pessimistic, but, in the Monaco Grand Prix, the race finishes on Saturday afternoon,” Alonso said. “On Sunday, you just join a train of cars.

“Hopefully we can gain some experience of the car, and improve its performance and reliability. We’re still too fragile at the moment.”

His teammate, Jenson Button, was disappointed not to qualify inside the top ten on Saturday, but remains hopeful of scoring McLaren’s first points of the season.

“The car felt really good – although we still don’t have enough outright pace – but I have a lot of confidence in it,” Button said.

“Today’s performance shows the progress we’re making. The team has done a fantastic job this weekend, and they should be happy because the car is getting better all the time.

“This is a nice little stepping stone for the future. Our aim tomorrow will be to score points.”

F1 Countdown for the Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 7am on Sunday, before switching over to NBC at 7:30am ET for the race.

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.