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Fernando Alonso limited to just three laps on Thursday in Barcelona

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McLaren came back down to earth with a bump on Thursday in Barcelona as a coolant leak limited Fernando Alonso to just three laps of running to close out the first Formula 1 pre-season test.

Alonso had enjoyed a successful first day behind the wheel of the MP4-31 earlier this week, completing 119 laps on Tuesday with no issues to already log more mileage than he managed in all of the 2015 pre-season.

However, just two days after knocking back another set of rumors suggesting he could be set to quit McLaren and walk away from F1, Alonso was left frustrated once again as he completed just three laps in eight hours of running.

Teammate Jenson Button had been sidelined for much of Wednesday with a hydraulic issue, and although the team was able to fix this in time for Alonso to begin running on Thursday morning, the unrelated coolant leak brought his day to an early end.

“Today was disappointing after starting the first couple of days of the test so positively,” Alonso said.

“Still, it’s good news that although the issue we had on the car meant we had to miss a lot of today’s running, it’s not a major problem and will be fixed in time for next week’s test.”

In spite of this setback, Alonso was pleased with the mileage that McLaren had managed in Barcelona and is already looking ahead to the second test next week.

“Overall, we’ve managed a good number of laps during this test, which means we have a lot of data to analyse and learn from,” Alonso said.

“Over the weekend we’ll work hard to get everything prepared for next week, with the aim of getting as much time on track as possible.”

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.