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Horner: Red Bull exceeded all expectations in first half of season

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner says the team surpassed all expectations during the first half of the 2016 season, ranking second in the constructors’ championship during the summer break.

After a difficult 2015 campaign that saw its efforts blighted by issues with the Renault power unit, Red Bull entered 2016 hopeful of recovering some of the ground lost on teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams.

Significant progress was made by Renault in the engine department over the winter which, combined with the strength of the RB12 chassis, has allowed Red Bull to return to the top step of the podium via Max Verstappen in Spain.

A double podium finish in Germany last weekend lifted Red Bull above Ferrari to second place in the constructors’ championship, beating any expectations Horner had heading into the season.

“To finish up second and third on the podium at Hockenheim, to have outscored Ferrari and go into the summer break with a 14 point advantage over them in the constructors’ championship is a great end to a really strong first half of the year,” Horner said.

“Time for a well-earned break for all of the team, to recharge their batteries and come back for the final nine races, where there are circuits on the calendar that will hopefully suit us.

“We’ve exceeded all of our expectations in the first half of the season. I don’t think pre-season any of us could have imagined to have been second in the constructors’ championship after 11 rounds.”

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.