Getty Images

Second straight challenging test day hits McLaren, Honda

Leave a comment

Not even a week ago at McLaren’s launch of its new MCL32 chassis, hopes were high about Honda’s power unit being a step forward for the year.

But Monday saw an oil system issue hamper Fernando Alonso’s first day of running this year at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.

Things failed to improve on Tuesday for Stoffel Vandoorne’s first day with a full power unit change occurring today, and limiting the Belgian to the same number of laps – 29 – as his teammate, the two-time World Champion, completed on Monday. Following a change, Vandoorne completed 11 more laps for a total of 40 on the day.

It’s been a sincerely challenging start to say the least for both parties, who in their post-test release today explained today’s delay:

“After completing 29 laps, we lost power to the PU. Our priority was to minimize the loss of track time and continue with our testing program, so we took the decision to change it,” said Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer. “We know we had a mechanical issue and we will not be reusing the power unit for this test, but we’ll have to investigate fully to identify the cause.

“Stoffel was back out on track by late afternoon and we were able to recover our schedule.

“Of course, it was disappointing to encounter further problems today, but tonight we’ll carry on our hard work to make further progress for Fernando’s session tomorrow.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier added, “It’s a shame we weren’t able to maximize the track time today due to the issue with the power unit, but it was encouraging once again that the team pulled together to replace the PU quickly in order to enable us to return to the track at the end of the afternoon session.

“When you design a new car and power unit under new regulations, it’s possible that there will be issues that arise that you cannot foresee in pre-season development. Of course, it’s unfortunate, but the important thing is that we learn from them, and there is already a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes by Honda to identify the issues and rectify them as soon as possible.

“Testing is just that: the prove-out of new components prior to the start of the season. We’ll continue with our planned test program tomorrow with Fernando, and keep pushing to make the most of the day’s running.”

With the back-to-back days of issues, McLaren Honda lags well behind the other nine teams in terms of lap count. Each team except McLaren has over 100 laps banked between the two days while combined, McLaren has just 69 official laps thus far – just three more than one-race distance at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.