Vettel: Challenge to catch Mercedes is huge

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Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are unsure whether they will be able to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix in spite of the team’s engine update for the race.

The Italian marque has spent some of its available engine tokens to update its engine ahead of the race in Montreal, suggesting that it could be able to cut into Mercedes’ advantage at the front of the field.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Vettel said that although Ferrari was hoping to make some inroads, the gap to Mercedes remained sizeable.

“In general we are here to fight so it’s clear we always want the maximum,” Vettel said. “You also have to see that Mercedes is still the strongest team and the challenge to catch them is huge.

“We are trying to make everything possible and close the gap and hopefully we can be a little bit closer this weekend.”

Kimi Raikkonen once again acknowledged his poor qualifying form as an area for improvement in Montreal, and said that Ferrari is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead in catching Mercedes.

“We know what we are lacking and we are trying to improve those areas to get what we want,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously I know where we have to improve, nobody had to tell me.

“But obviously we put ourselves in a difficult position on Saturdays for Sundays so if we improve that we have good speed in race.

“If you are starting where you shouldn’t it makes it difficult. The aim is to improve but it’s not always simple to do.”

The Canadian Grand Prix does have a tendency for drama and surprises, as exemplified by Daniel Ricciardo’s victory in the 2014 race. Although Ferrari may remain the second-quickest team, should Mercedes come unstuck in Montreal for the second year in a row, either Vettel or Raikkonen could be waiting in the wings to pick up an unlikely win.

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.