Vettel upbeat despite losing track time in Austria practice

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Sebastian Vettel remained upbeat following practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday despite losing a large amount of track time due to technical problems on his car.

Vettel finished at the bottom of the timesheets in FP1 after a gearbox problem caused him to lose power, forcing the German to park his car up at the side of the track and await recovery.

Despite getting the car repaired in time to head out in second practice and set the fastest time of the session, a second issue forced Vettel to pit with 25 minutes remaining in FP2 and bring his day to an early end.

“In the afternoon session we had a problem with the gearbox as one of the sensors went to the alert mode and we had to slow down,” Vettel said. “Obviously now we’ll have to take a close look at it. We don’t know what’s the problem yet, but it seems to be unrelated to the one we had this morning.

“It’s always better if it happens in free practice rather than in qualifying or in the race, but we have to look into it and make sure it’s not happening again.”

The loss of track time did leave Vettel feeling slightly on the back foot, but he was still pleased with the work Ferrari had completed across the course of the day.

“In terms of feeling with the track, the lap is short and you just need to get into the rhythm,” he said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get as many laps as we wanted, but that’s what it is.

“Overall the pace looks fine, we’ve taken a lot of information from this session, which is good. We know that we have a good car and we think we are competitive, let’s see what’s happening overnight.

“We have to make sure that we stay with Mercedes as much as we can, it should be an interesting qualifying tomorrow.”

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.