Hamilton on Vettel Spa F1 battle: ‘That’s what racing is all about’

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Lewis Hamilton was full of praise for Formula 1 title rival Sebastian Vettel after a close battle throughout Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, believing the Ferrari driver to have enjoyed better race pace at Spa.

Hamilton edged out Vettel by 2.3 seconds at the checkered flag following a race-long fight, the pair running side-by-side on two occasions.

Vettel was unable to find a way through, allowing Hamilton to grab his fifth victory of the season and cut the gap at the top of the drivers’ championship down to just seven points.

“The Ferraris I think genuinely had the upper hand particularly on race pace throughout the weekend,” Hamilton said.

“He was very, very strong today, and I was towing him around everywhere, so they were getting a good tow down the straights.

“On the restart the safety car was driving so slow, it was I guess to let the other people catch up, so keeping tyre temperature, given I was on the harder tire, was very, very difficult. I came to the restart, Sebastian was very, very close, the front tyres weren’t switched on initially. He got a good tow.”

Vettel was able to tuck in behind Hamilton’s car after the safety car period, only to get too close and force himself to back off a bit, losing straight-line speed.

“I think he was a little bit too close on the run out of Turn 1, so I think he had to lift off as he would have otherwise come by potentially before Eau Rouge, which perhaps was a good thing for me because he lost a little bit of performance,” Hamilton said.

“He did a great race, he was very, very consistent throughout. It was fun to be racing against another team and Sebastian really at his best and the car at his best, battling within half a tenth every lap.

“That’s what racing is about. I think they’re able to keep up and follow quite closely for a long, long time, so I think they had the better pace today.

“But fortunately I was able to do just enough to stay ahead.”

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.