MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Austrian GP

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The hills will be alive with the sound of horsepower this weekend as the Formula 1 paddock ventures to Spielberg for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Ring played host to the race for the first time in 11 years in 2014, putting on an exciting and entertaining event as Williams very nearly upstaged Mercedes, whilst Red Bull faded on home soil.

This year is likely to see a renewed fight at the front between title rivals and Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but can anyone else get in the mix at the front?

Once again, the MST writers have their say ahead of what should be an intriguing Austrian Grand Prix.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Keen to make up for the disappointment of losing in Austria last year and on a high after his victory in Canada two weeks ago, I’m tipping Lewis Hamilton to clinch his fifth victory of the season on Sunday.

Surprising FinishValtteri Bottas. Williams may not be able to repeat its pole position theft of 2014 this time around, but you can still expect the British team to run well at the Red Bull Ring. Bottas is in good form after scoring his first podium of the year in Canada, and a second could follow in Austria.

Most to ProveRed Bull. Its first ever home grand prix in 2014 was nothing short of a disaster. Red Bull really cannot afford to have another embarrassment at the circuit which bears its name, particularly with many of its rivals snapping at its heels.

Additional Storyline to WatchThe Hulk returns. Fresh off the back of his Le Mans win, Nico Hulkenberg is likely to be a man in demand this weekend. It will be interesting to see what the reaction to his victory in the paddock is, and just how he gets on when he returns to the ‘day job’ with Force India.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Nico Rosberg. More than Hamilton here, I like Rosberg’s chances at a race he won last year. Qualifying will be crucial.

Surprising Finish: Nico Hulkenberg. Why not, right? While Hulk’s F1 chariot isn’t the caliber of his Le Mans winner, he’s coming off a great two-week stretch of points in Montreal and of course his Le Mans victory. Seventh or eighth would be another good, achievable result here even though the car is not the fourth best in the field.

Most to Prove: McLaren. With their persistent reliability issues of late, simply getting both cars home to the finish must be the goal.

Additional Storyline to Watch: Red Bull on home soil. After challenging Montreal, Red Bull heads into its home race in rare territory: with almost no expectations. How well will another poor performance sit at the track that bears its name?

Predict the Podium

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

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.