Maldonado hoping to reboot season at Spa and Monza

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Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado has set his sights on rebooting and reinvigorating his 2015 Formula 1 season at the next two races in Belgium and Italy.

Following a month-long summer break, F1 returns next weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which ranks as one of the most unique tracks on the calendar thanks to its long straights and fast, sweeping corners.

This race is followed two weeks later by the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the fastest track on the current calendar.

Both circuits will reward teams that perfect a low downforce setup and have plenty of power in their engines, which Maldonado believes Lotus has.

“I think we have some tracks coming up which suit our car so that’s a good positive,” Maldonado said.

“Certainly, Spa and Monza should be strong for us so good results there will be a great way to reboot our season before we head to all the flyaway races when anything is possible.”

Maldonado has failed to match teammate Romain Grosjean for pace in the first half of the 2015 season, and currently trails the Frenchman in the drivers’ championship by 11 points.

The Venezuelan is relishing the opportunity to get back into the Lotus E23 Hybrid following the summer break, but has been thankful for the chance to relax and unwind over the past few weeks.

“It’s good to not have any pressure, events or factory visits for a couple of weeks so you can clear your head and prepare for the next nine races,” Maldonado said.

“I’ve been training and enjoying the good weather whilst preparing mentally and physically for the rest of the season. Whilst it’s great to have a bit of a break, I can’t wait to jump back into the car.”

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”