Mercedes boss Toto Wolff apologizes to Hamilton

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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has issued an apology to Lewis Hamilton after a mistake on the pit wall cost the Briton a near-certain victory in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Hamilton had dominated proceedings around the streets of the principality all weekend long, storming away from pole position to open up a 19-second lead heading into the final 15 laps of the race.

However, a crash between Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean resulted in a late safety car period, during which Mercedes opted to pit Hamilton in the belief that he would retain his lead.

The team had miscalculated Hamilton’s advantage, though, meaning that the Briton emerged on track in third place behind teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. He was unable to pass the drivers, forcing him to settle for P3 at the line.

Hamilton was evidently disappointed after the race, and Wolff was quick to apologize to the Briton.

“We must apologize to Lewis,” Wolff said. “We win and we lose together and what I am proud of in this team is that we take collective responsibility.

“But this is a day when we simply have to say sorry to our driver, because our mistake cost him the victory here.”

Wolff admitted that Mercedes had made a miscalculation, believing that Hamilton’s lead was bigger than it actually was.

“In simple terms, we got our numbers wrong,” he said. “We thought we had the gap for Lewis to take fresh tyres and come back out in the lead behind the safety car, ahead of Nico and covering off any risk of another competitor taking fresh tires.

“But the calculation was incorrect and he came out in third place. It was our decision to call him in and our mistake, pure and simple; in these situations, a driver trusts his team.

“Lewis had driven flawlessly until then and really delivered a perfect weekend, with a stunning pole lap and a masterful race. There’s nothing more to say other than to highlight the grace with which he handled the situation; he was a leader and a true sportsman this afternoon.”

Wolff confirmed that there would be an internal investigation into the incident at Mercedes, and he hopes that the team will emerge stronger for the incident.

“We now need to stay calm and analyse how we made the mistake this afternoon,” Wolff explained. “We will be harshly self-critical behind closed doors and this experience will make us a better and a stronger team in the races ahead.

“There is still a very long way to go in this championship and today showed that we have the performance in our car to do the job this year.”

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.