Maldonado delighted to score first points of the season

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Pastor Maldonado had every reason to celebrate following the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday after scoring his long-awaited first points of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Maldonado had been running inside the top ten on a number of occasions in the opening six races, only for technical problems on the car to resign him to five retirements and one 15th-place finish.

After qualifying sixth on Saturday, the Venezuelan driver pinned his hopes on a trouble-free race so that he could bid for his first points of the year.

Lotus opted to put Maldonado on an aggressive strategy, switching him from the super-soft to the soft tires on lap 17 in a bid to get him past Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Although his 53-lap old tires at the end of the race caused him to fall behind Felipe Massa in the battle for sixth, Maldonado crossed the line in seventh place to pick up six points and end his pointless drought.

“Finally, here we are in the points!” Maldonado said after the race. “I think now we’ve started scoring there’s potential for this to be a great season for us as we have really good pace.

“It was a good race. We had to pit quite early to gain the place against Nico Hulkenberg which made the later part of the race quite tricky and I couldn’t defend later on as a consequence.

“I’m pleased for the team that we got both cars in the points; let’s continue like this.”

Teammate Romain Grosjean bounced back from a puncture and a time penalty to finish the race in tenth place for Lotus, marking the team’s first double points score of the season.

“It was a happy day for us,” deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi said. “Pastor scored his first points of the season after driving a strong and measured race and Romain was in the points too even if it was in a more eventful manner.

“For Pastor this should be a turning point for his season and with thank all his supporters in Venezuela and PDVSA for their faith in us. Both cars scoring points is always our target and we want more of the same for the rest of the 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.