Vettel: No team orders from Ferrari in Monaco GP victory

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Sebastian Vettel has denied that the strategy call that allowed him to leapfrog Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and take his third win of the 2017 Formula 1 season in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix was pre-planned.

Raikkonen led the early part of the race in Monaco from pole position with Vettel running second, the pair being split by no more than two seconds.

Ferrari pitted Raikkonen first in response to earlier stops from Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen in third and fourth place, releasing the Finn back into traffic after switching tires.

Running in clear air at the front, Vettel was able to put in a series of quick times that meant he emerged ahead of Raikkonen after stopping five laps later, with the position switch setting the German up for victory.

Raikkonen was left fuming after the race, having missed out on the chance to win his first race in Ferrari colors since 2009, while suggestions followed that the team had always planned for Vettel to take victory in a bid to aid his championship bid.

When asked if there was a pre-race plan to get him ahead of Raikkonen, Vettel said: “Not really. We spoke about the race before. It was clear that, as I said, I think they had the same plan to be honest so the lead car normally gets priority.

“So if I had a choice at that point, sitting behind Kimi, if I was going in the pits first, that’s maybe what you like to do because you are sooner on the fresher tires.

“I think it’s probably one of the rare occasions where the overcut turned out to be positive, so I’m really glad I made that work. From the team point of view, there was no plan of any team orders or anything.

“I can understand that obviously Kimi’s not happy. I would feel exactly the same, 100 per cent the same.”

The result saw Vettel extend his championship lead to 25 points over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, but the German is refusing to think about winning a fifth world title yet.

“It’s a long way so I’m not really bothered about that. It was more the fact to stand up there and see the team,” Vettel said of the significance of his Monaco victory.

“I think obviously, it’s a small part that we have here at the track but thinking of everyone else back in Maranello in the factory.

“We got a lot of hard times last year and this year everything seems to be upside down, but the team is the same, the people are the same so it’s really clear to them.

“I guess in these small moments you just realize that it’s a special group of people. If things go well, we’ll work hand in hand, we must make sure we keep the momentum up in the next couple of races.

“But I think we’re just having a great time.”

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.