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Renault: “Cocktail of problems” in 2015 taught us plenty

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Renault Sport director of operations Remi Taffin believes that three main factors created a “cocktail of problems” for the French manufacturer in Formula 1 this year.

Renault spent much of the season battling criticism from customer teams Red Bull and Toro Rosso due to a number of issues with its power unit that prompted the energy drinks giant to threaten to quit the sport.

Ultimately, Red Bull was forced into sticking with Renault power units for 2016 – albeit rebranded as TAG Heuer – but the issues did cause the manufacturer to also consider its place in F1.

In an interview on the Renault Sport website, Taffin explored the problems that blighted Red Bull’s efforts throughout the season, but is certain that such issues will not occur again in the future.

“We arrived at the first winter test believing that we had made a big step forward between seasons,” Taffin said. “We genuinely thought that we had done a good job.

“It was the case in certain areas, but we were caught out in three principal ways. The first was a significant reliability problem with the pistons. We had not seen the particular issue in any of the testing conducted and all the parts were signed off in the usual way.

“The other issue was that we had another part inside the PU electronics that we could not put our finger on and it continued to be a source of problems.

“The final element is that we braked so late for 2015, taking decisions until the last possible moment. The specification of PU for the first race was determined very late in the day and quite simply we braked too late, and we weren’t ready.

“We wanted to make up the gap so badly that we pulled the rug out from under our own feet. But this particular cocktail of problems did allow us to learn a lot and make sure that the same issues will not reoccur in the future.”

Renault will return to F1 in 2016 with its own works team after agreeing to buy Lotus, but it will no longer supply Toro Rosso after the team elected to switch to 2015-spec Ferrari engines for the new season.

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.