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Late Wehrlein call-up freezes Hamilton out of in-season testing

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A late call-up for Pascal Wehrlein at the first in-season Formula 1 test of the year has frozen Lewis Hamilton out of any non-race weekend running for the rest of 2016.

After fielding Nico Rosberg on Tuesday in Barcelona, Mercedes had been due to run junior driver Esteban Ocon on Wednesday.

However, a late decision was taken to draft in Wehrlein instead, who is a member of its junior programme as well as racing with Manor in F1.

“The team called me yesterday evening as they couldn’t finish their test programme and needed an experienced driver to finish it off, so I came back to the track to do a seat fitting that night,” Wehrlein revealed on Wednesday after finishing third overall.

“We did 133 laps today – two race distances – and finished the test programme, which was important for the team.

“We tried a few different setups during the morning – mainly looking at aerodynamic with the aero rig. Then we did some long runs in the afternoon, so a good programme.

“I must say I really enjoyed the car – it felt amazing! I’m now really looking forward to my first Monaco Grand Prix next week.”

While getting a driver with F1 race experience to test the car may have paid off now for Mercedes, it does mean that it is unable to field Hamilton, Rosberg or Wehrlein at the second in-season test at Silverstone in July.

In 2016, teams are required to allocate at least half of their in-season running to rookie drivers without F1 race experience, with the majority opting to use a day from each test.

However, much like Haas who fielded race drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez in Barcelona, Mercedes will now need to make up for both junior days at Silverstone later in the year.

Ocon could theoretically take both days of running in the W07 Hybrid at Silverstone, with Renault – the team with whom he is on loan for 2016 in a reserve role – boasting a raft of juniors who could test for them in his place.

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.