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Giovinazzi scores first GP2 victory in Baku feature race

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Antonio Giovinazzi scored his first victory in the GP2 Series on Saturday after weathering a frenetic feature race at the Baku City Circuit.

Formula 1’s premier feeder series offered the first racing action at the street course in Baku, Azerbaijan, with incidents coming thick and fast throughout.

Giovinazzi started the race from pole, but dropped to sixth as a number of drivers tangled at the first corner.

ART driver Nobuharhu Matsushita emerged in the lead, only to lose out to Raffaele Marciello on the restart after the first of four safety car periods.

Giovinazzi began to dial in his car more and more as the race wore on, allowing him to pass Oliver Rowland, Matsushita and ultimately Marciello to take the lead with nine laps remaining.

A long safety car period followed to allow the safe removal of Norman Nato’s stricken car, leaving enough time for just two laps of green flag running once the track had been cleared.

Giovinazzi managed to hold on in the final dash to the line to record both his and Prema Powerteam’s first GP2 victory since entering the series at the beginning of the season.

Sergey Sirotkin made the most of the late drama to rise to second at the checkered flag, beating Marciello into third. Rowland was left to settle for P4 ahead of Mitch Evans and Matushita.

Just 10 cars finished the race, allowing some of GP2’s regular backmarkers to pick up points. Sean Galeal ended up seventh ahead of Daniel de Jong and Luca Ghiotto, while Gustav Malja rounded out the classification.

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.