Williams seeks low-speed track improvement in Hungary

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Williams Martini Racing has scored both its started cars in every race but one this year: Monaco.

And as the team heads to Hungary this weekend, they’re optimistic they can avoid a second double non-score at the second low-speed, high-downforce circuit on the calendar.

The team is hopeful that recent upgrades that have brought them closer to the front of the field in recent races, scoring podiums in Canada and Austria before running 1-2 at Silverstone before its strategy decision backfired and cost them a podium, will again work at the Hungaroring.

“Hungary is tight and twisty, and is a low efficiency circuit in terms of aerodynamics but also has some high speed corners,” Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley said in a pre-race release.

“The balance of the car is important as the long loaded corners tend to highly stress the front tyres and lead to graining, but you then go into the traction phase with hot rear tires, so it’s not easy to get a good lap in.

“The temperature always plays its part with hot ambient temperatures and this has an effect on the power unit and aerodynamic set-up.”

Felipe Massa, who has a best finish of fourth at Hungary (2010 with Ferrari) since his 2009 accident at the circuit, looks to go better than fifth here last year.

“Hungary is a special place for me. I have a lot of fans there after my accident in 2009 and since then the people have really got behind me which is great,” Massa said. “Being so close to a city which has such fantastic culture really adds to the race weekend.

“This circuit wouldn’t normally suit our car because it’s quite low speed, but we have improved the car so much in recent races with the upgrades we have introduced so we should have another competitive weekend.”

The man to watch this weekend however is Massa’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, now in his first race weekend since a report broke last week that the Finn appears headed for Ferrari in 2016.

Bottas, though, looks for glory in the closest thing to a home Grand Prix at a track that traditionally attracts a lot of Finns. He started third but ended eighth here last year.

“Budapest is a great city and hosts a great race. There are a lot of Finnish fans living in Hungary, but also many who make the trip for this race weekend so I always have a lot of support – it’s almost a Finnish Grand Prix,” he said.

“The circuit is very different from the last few because it’s much tighter with more medium and slow speed corners, but our development has been focused on tracks like this and generating higher downforce. We should be looking to have a strong weekend and to build on the good momentum we have built.”

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.