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Mercedes ‘optimistic’ Rosberg will avoid gearbox penalty

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Mercedes is “optimistic” that Nico Rosberg will avoid a gearbox penalty at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix despite hitting trouble two weeks ago at Silverstone.

Rosberg lost seventh gear during the closing stages of the British Grand Prix, prompting Mercedes to give him instructions over the radio to prevent a terminal failure.

Although the messages were deemed to have been in breach of the sporting regulations, a 10-second time penalty meant that Rosberg only dropped to third, retaining the lead of the drivers’ championship in the process.

Gearboxes are required to last six grands prix under the 2016 regulations, Rosberg taking his last two rounds ago in Austria after crashing in FP3.

That gearbox is required to last until the Singapore Grand Prix in September, but concerns were raised after the issue at Silverstone.

Rosberg will use the gearbox during practice on Friday to ensure that it is able to be used over the remainder of the weekend.

“We will be running the race gearbox tomorrow to make sure it is OK and are optimistic that it will be,” a spokesperson for Mercedes said.

Rosberg arrived in Hungary leading the drivers’ championship by a single point after seeing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton cut down the 43-point gap that existed before Monaco.

Rosberg is refusing to dwell on his difficult run of form, and is instead focusing on chalking up his first win in Hungary.

“I have reflected on each individual [race] once it’s done and then I’ve moved on,” Rosberg said.

“Feeling good, feeling excited to be here.

“It’s been a good season so far and I’m going to try and win this weekend, of course.”

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.