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Vettel unconcerned about Ferrari engine reliability in China

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Sebastian Vettel has no concerns about the reliability of Ferrari’s power unit heading into this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix in spite of the failures suffered in Australia and Bahrain.

Vettel failed to start in Bahrain two weeks ago after his engine failed on the formation lap, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen was sidelined in Australia by a similar issue.

Vettel has moved on to his second internal combustion engine of the season for this weekend’s race in China, and has no concerns about the problems repeating themselves.

“It was a little part that caused the problem and turned into the biggest possible consequence,” Vettel said of his Bahrain issue.

“That was a shame. Obviously we have a new engine for this weekend and as I just said I don’t expect that issue to come up again.

“It’s a bit annoying that an engine went bust, but if you learn from that and can make sure that it will not happen again then you can live with it.”

Vettel is nevertheless happy with the Ferrari SF16-H car for the season ahead, believing it to be more workable than his 2015 runner.

“The performance is not yet where we want it to be, so you could say that there are some negatives, but there is nothing that shakes me or makes me nervous for the next couple of races, or the entire season,” Vettel said.

“This team is very strong and I know that we can improve a lot. The potential is there. Now let’s bring all the ingredients together – hopefully sooner rather than later.

“I know that there is a lot coming. This year’s car allows us to play much more than last year’s car.”

Vettel finished second in practice on Friday behind Raikkonen, and is pleased with how the SF16-H car is shaping up heading into the rest of the weekend.

“Friday is not so important in terms of position but in terms of feeling. We had a decent day and the feeling with the car was ok, but we can still improve, especially the balance,” Vettel said.

“Tonight we’ll have a lot of work to do, in order to get on top of everything. For sure to go for pole is always our goal, but it’s only Friday so I would’t stress too much.

“This track is quite brutal on tires, I was sliding a lot and there was a lot of degradation. I looked at Kimi’s data and saw where he was faster.

“This afternoon we had different programmes and this is useful to make a comparison because we can learn from each other.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

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.