di Resta under pressure to deliver

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The decision by Force India to partner Paul di Resta with Adrian Sutil once again came as a surprise following the latter’s fall from grace at the end of 2011. A great deal has changed since Sutil first left, with di Resta heading into the new season as the ‘number one’ driver, but if he is outpaced by his teammate this year, the Scot could find his Formula One career under scrutiny.

di Resta’s time in F1 has been described as “solid” or “decent”, but these words lack the same panache that the likes of Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso were called when they entered the sport. Two seasons have yielded 73 points and a best finish of fourth in the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix. Occasionally, he has managed to force his way into the top ten shootout, but there has rarely been a spectacular showing from the Scot. In Belgium last year, he was as high as third before dropping back through the field to finish tenth. Considering his teammate had been out of F1 for a whole season, di Resta struggled to match Nico Hulkenberg, with their performances in the Brazilian GP summing up their seasons: Hulkenberg led for most of the race; di Resta struggled before crashing out with a few laps to go.

Enter Adrian Sutil. The German driver has reminded journalists how he scored more points than di Resta when they were last together, and if he could repeat this performance in 2013, it could spell trouble for the former DTM champion. To have spent three seasons in the sport without beating your teammate is not “future champion” material. When Lewis Hamilton vacated his McLaren seat, many saw di Resta as the ideal replacement. The factor that swung in Perez’s favor was his record for stand-out results (three podiums last season, including the nearly win in Malaysia).

Although this hypothesis may be a rather negative one for di Resta to contemplate, it will hopefully be the incentive that will lead him to some strong results in 2013. One must also remember how Jenson Button became a leading driver: eight years of midfield mediocrity before that championship win. As F1 becomes increasingly cut-throat though, di Resta may not have time to wait around, and will instead have to prove his worth in 2013.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”