F1 Mugello crashes
LUCA BRUNO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Two massive crashes in first 10 laps eliminate nearly half of F1 field

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Two massive crashes in the first 10 laps Sunday eliminated nearly half of the field in the Tuscan Grand Prix, the first F1 race at the Mugello circuit.

On the initial start, a wreck collected Red Bull’s third-ranked Max Verstappen, who failed to finish for the second consecutive race, and Pierre Gasly, who broke through for his first Formula One victory last week at Monza.

After five laps following the safety car, the field made another attempt at restarting the race with a rolling start on Lap 6.

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But with leader Valtteri Bottas (who had taken the lead from teammate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap) deliberately slowing the pace, some drivers at the rear accelerated early.

That caused a chain reaction midpack that eliminated more drivers, including Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz, leaving 13 of the 20 cars able to continue. The race was red-flagged for a frontstretch cleanup.

The race finally was restarted with a standing start on Lap 10, nearly 45 minutes after the opening lap. Hamilton quickly retook the lead into the first turn from Bottas.

The race was red-flagged for a second time (the first time in four years that an F1 race was stopped twice) after Lance Stroll crashed on Lap 44 because of an apparent tire puncture.

No drivers were injured in the incidents. The seven eliminated from the race in the first two crashes were: Verstappen, Gasly, Sainz, Magnussen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nicholas Latifi and Esteban Ocon.

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 stops in the gravel as he retires from the F1 Grand Prix of Tuscany (Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images).

AlphaTauri’s French driver Pierre Gasly lands in the gravel trap after crashing at the Mugello circuit (MIGUEL MEDINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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.