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F1 2017 driver review: Antonio Giovinazzi

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Antonio Giovinazzi

Team: Sauber
Car No.: 36
Races: 2
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P12 (Australia)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Championship Position: 22nd

Antonio Giovinazzi made his mark through 2016 by finishing as runner-up in the GP2 Series, leading to a reserve role with Ferrari and a place on its junior programme – but his Formula 1 debut still came about as a surprise.

After deputizing for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber in the opening pre-season test, Giovinazzi was benched again upon the German’s return for the second week of running in Barcelona, and only traveled to Australia to be on-hand as a precaution.

But when Wehrlein felt discomfort upon pushing the car at high speed in practice, Giovinazzi was drafted in for a shock F1 debut, entering qualifying with only an hour’s worth of practice running under his belt in the Sauber C36 car.

Giovinazzi put in a stellar display, though, nearly reaching Q2 – he would have had it not been for a mistake at the final corner – and enjoyed a solid race to finish an excellent 12th.

Giovinazzi was once again in action for the Chinese Grand Prix, but had a tougher weekend. A crash in qualifying was followed by a similar shunt in the race as he misjudged the damp conditions on the main straight, slamming his car into the wall.

It was a come-down for the Italian after such a strong debut, and proved to be his final start of the season as Wehrlein returned for Bahrain.

Despite Ferrari pushing for him to get a seat with Sauber for 2018, the team opted to keep Marcus Ericsson, leaving Giovinazzi to settle for a third driver role.

He may be waiting in the wings, but time is ticking for a chance to come along that would allow Giovinazzi to prove his quality.

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.