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Alonso’s frustration grows after third straight retirement for McLaren

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While the hype surrounding Fernando Alonso’s entry to the 101st Indianapolis 500 lingered in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock throughout this weekend’s grand prix, the Spaniard was offered a tough reminder of just how deep McLaren’s Formula 1 plight currently is after suffering his third straight retirement on Sunday.

Alonso qualified 15th on Saturday after being prevented from taking part in Q2 due to a power unit blow out, with the Honda power unit showing few signs of improving in reliability.

McLaren’s entry in Bahrain was reduced to one car when Stoffel Vandoorne suffered a failure on his power unit while going to the grid, leaving the Belgian listed as ‘did not start’.

Alonso pulled off his usual trick of fighting valiantly with his underpowered McLaren MCL32 through the race, running on the fringes of the top 10 and enjoying battles with the likes of Jolyon Palmer and Daniil Kvyat.

A loss of power ultimately caused Alonso to retire with three laps to go, meaning that although the Spaniard was classified for the first time in a race this year, he is still yet to reach the checkered flag in 2017.

“It was so frustrating! We have a big straight line speed deficit, on the straights we lost so much ground,” Alonso told NBCSN after the race

“We were close to the points at parts of the race but we never had the pace as in China or Australia. We need to keep improving to be better in Russia. The power is quite important in Russia. We know the weakness of the package.

“We’ve been working very hard. This weekend we’ve had so much bad luck. All the power unit changes. We aren’t even able to participate. Fast and slow at times. When you can’t even start the races it is amazing…”

Alonso’s anger did result in a couple of radio gems, adding to the list of ‘san Nando’ quotes we’ve been treated to this year.

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.