Button and Alonso upbeat after positive Friday for McLaren in Hungary

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Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were upbeat following a positive Friday for McLaren in practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

McLaren has endured its worst ever start to a Formula 1 season in 2015, scoring just five points and suffering nine retirements in the opening nine races of the year.

Many of the issues have stemmed from the new Honda power unit following the Japanese manufacturer’s return to the sport at the beginning of 2014.

However, the team appears to be in better shape at the Hungaroring – a circuit where engine power is less important – as Button and Alonso finished on the fringes of the top ten in FP1 and FP2 on Friday.

Alonso remained cautious given the difficulties faced by other teams on Friday, but was pleased with the performance of the McLaren MP4-30 nevertheless.

“We see on Fridays that some teams don’t show their full potential, and are more competitive on Saturday,” Alonso said. “Neither Force India ran this afternoon, so I think it’s realistic to expect that there’ll be a few more cars ahead of us tomorrow.

“Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with the performance of the car – it gets better every weekend.

“It’s been a trouble-free day – we had no issues on either car – but now we need to focus mainly on the race. Our long-run pace looks okay, but qualifying will be important too because overtaking around here is so difficult.

“I’d like to hope that, if we finish the race, we can hopefully score some points.”

Button admitted that he was enjoying driving the McLaren car for the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, and has confidence in the MP4-30.

“I enjoyed the car today,” Button said. “It was fun to drive, and the last time if felt like this was in Monaco, so that’s a promising way to start the grand prix weekend.

“Hopefully, we can have a reasonable time here – it’s tough with these high temperatures, but every team has to deal with that.

“Our high-fuel runs were reasonably positive today, so I think we’ve got a good foundation beneath us. The balance is giving me confidence: we know we can make it faster too, so, with a few little set-up tweaks, I think we could be in reasonable shape tomorrow.

“Overall, I think the team is in a good place – we’ve had a tough few races recently, but we’ve stuck together, and we’ve stayed strong.”

Both Alonso and Button have fond memories of racing at the Hungaroring, which was the site of their maiden grand prix victories in 2003 and 2006 respectively.

Although a repeat result may not be on the cards this weekend, points for either driver would surely feel like a victory to the ailing McLaren team.

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.