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Vettel feels fortunate, but happy with Australian Grand Prix win

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Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was victorious on Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, was relieved that the team’s strategy, which saw him run longer on his opening stint than those around him, most notably early race leader Lewis Hamilton, worked to perfection to vault Vettel up from third on the grid and into the lead, which he held for the entire second half of the race on his way to victory.

“It’s been the other way around a couple times, especially last year. So, I think what goes around comes around. Maybe sometimes it feels bad to wait for it, so on a day like this obviously you don’t mind,” Vettel said to Formula 1’s Will Buxton during a post-race edition of F1 Paddock Pass.

Vettel added that the Virtual Safety Car period, brought out by Haas F1’s Team’s Romain Grosjean when he stopped on course with a loose wheel, was a scenario that the team had discussed in great detail ahead of the race, and things worked out exactly as they had planned.

“Obviously, we did our homework,” Vettel quipped. “We spoke about exactly that (scenario) before the race. Obviously, you never know what happens, and that’s the proof you have to remain sharp. As soon as I saw the Virtual Safety Car I knew what to do. And we tried to do everything, and it worked. It was tight, but it worked.”

Conversely, Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton, who led early after starting on the pole, was dumbfounded that the race got away from them after a dominant display in qualifying saw him outqualify the field by over half a second.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP on the podium during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“I am in disbelief because I did everything I was supposed to do. I came, I was prepared, I drove as well as I could, I didn’t put a foot wrong and all of the sudden I came out behind (Vettel) and I was thinking ‘What just happened?’ I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now, but we’ll regroup and I’m sure we’ll work on it,” he explained in the aforementioned F1 Paddock Pass video.

Hamilton added that, while his F1 W09 EQ Power+ is certainly quick, he expects Ferrari to be neck and neck with Mercedes all year.

They had some good pace today,” he said of Ferrari’s performance. “We’re going to other races where they’re going to potentially be…their performance is going to be a little bit higher, and there’s going to be races where our performance is a little bit higher. But, I think it’s going to be a close battle through the year.”

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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.