F1 Max Verstappen surprise
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Max Verstappen storms to unlikely F1 victory over Lewis Hamilton

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SILVERSTONE, England — Max Verstappen sprung the surprise of the F1 season Sunday by beating Lewis Hamilton to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, his ninth career victory in Formula One.

The Red Bull Racing driver crossed the line at Silverstone 11.3 seconds clear of Hamilton, with pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas third. The Mercedes duo of Bottas and Hamilton had qualified 1-2, and the team had been expected to cruise to its fifth consecutive victory to open the 2020 season.

But Hamilton and Bottas struggled with managing their tire wear, clearing the way for Verstappen to take an unlikely win.

Charles Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Alexander Albon. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was sixth.

Hamilton will head to next week’s Spanish Grand Prix with a 30-point championship lead over Verstappen.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team has been the class act of the field this year and, after Bottas beat Hamilton to the first corner, it looked as though it would be a straight fight between the all-black cars for victory.

But Verstappen, who started fourth and moved ahead of Racing Point’s Nico Hulkenberg at the opening bend, remained hot on their heels. Both Mercedes cars started on the medium tires, with Verstappen on the more durable hard tire.

Verstappen sensed that the Mercedes cars were struggling and was soon hunting down Hamilton. At one stage, he was told to drop off Hamilton’s gearbox to protect his tires.

“This is the only chance to beat Mercedes,” he said over the radio. “I am not going to sit back like a grandma.”

And he remained aggressive. Bottas pitted from the lead on lap 13 with Hamilton following in for fresh tires on the following lap. Verstappen took the lead and, when he came in for new tires at the midway stage of the race, he left the pits just behind Bottas.

Verstappen took only a handful of corners to regain top spot after he resisted Bottas’ tame defense.

Verstappen and Bottas came in with 20 laps remaining for a second time, and Hamilton remained out on wearing tires until Lap 41 of 52.

Hamilton emerged in fourth, but the 35-year-old showed good pace on the fresh tires, posting the fastest lap of the race before overtaking Leclerc at Stowe for third. With two laps left, he passed his teammate Bottas for second around the outside of Brooklands. The six-time series champion tied Michael Schumacher’s record with his 155th career podium.

After Verstappen cruised to victory, Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh, while Sebastian Vettel was outside the points in 12th following an opening-lap spin.

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.