Photo courtesy of IMSA

Castroneves involved in early incident at Petit Le Mans

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Team Penske’s return to sports car racing got off to a rough start in the opening minutes of the Motul Petit Le Mans, as polesitter Helio Castroneves was involved in an incident with Matteo Cressoni in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 in the opening hour.

With the race beginning on a wet track surface, Castroneves in his No. 6 Oreca 07 Gibson lost the lead to Tequila Patron ESM’s Pipo Derani on the first lap, but held down second through a flurry of pit stops as teams begin pitting for slick tires with the track drying very quickly.

After rejoining the race, still in second behind Derani, Castroneves was lapping the aforementioned Cressoni when the Ferrari driver broke loose entering the Turn 10 chicane.

Castroneves was an innocent victim as Cressoni subsequently spun into him, sending both drivers into the gravel.

However, even though he lost a lap getting removed from the gravel trap, Castroneves only sustained minor damage to the rear bodywork.

Team Penske immediately went to work replacing the damaged bodywork, and Castroneves was able to quickly rejoin the fight.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.