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Williams starts strong, but struggles home 8th, 9th in Bahrain

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Williams Martini Racing launched out of the gate with both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa making flying starts from sixth and seventh up to second and third by the first turn.

And that was as good as it got from there before the pair of drivers fell back as the race went on.

Bottas, from the inside line and sixth, launched through the middle past Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari to then get into third place.

It was there though he attempted to pass Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes for second at the inside at Turn 1, only to collect Hamilton and push the three-time and defending World Champion into a spin and cause contact for both cars.

He and Massa made it out of the corner in second and third, but once they switched onto Pirelli’s medium compound, they fell back as the race progressed.

Bottas’ race went from bad to worse as he was assessed a drive-through penalty for the first corner contact. He ended a spot behind Massa, with the pair eighth and ninth, and was also given two penalty points for the clash with Hamilton.

“The first 200 meters into Turn 1 was the highlight of my race. Everything after that was very disappointing,” Bottas told NBCSN’s Will Buxton.

“The Mercedes cars didn’t expect me there, and maybe I braked too late as well. I need to have a look.”

On the contact, Bottas said he could have possibly avoided braking too late.

“I think definitely I could avoided (the contact) a little. But I didn’t expect them to slow down that much. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you brake too early and someone passes you from the outside.”

Massa was more elaborate in noting the struggles on the mediums.

“I was so happy after corner one I went from seventh to second. And now I’m so disappointed to finish eighth in the race!” Massa told Buxton.

“Our strategy didn’t work compared to the other teams. It’s a race we were supposed to score more points. We couldn’t do anything. We scored a little points. The race pace on the mediums was disappointing compared to the other cars. It was good on the supersofts, but after that, not.”

Massa also had debuted a new front wing this race, which he hoped would improve performance

“I hope the numbers are important for the engineers. I hope we can understand things better, be strong and do a better strategy.”

You can note Williams’ tire strategy play here compared to others:

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.