Force India feeling good ahead of qualifying

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Force India was the surprise package of the Australian Grand Prix, with Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta finishing seventh and eighth respectively, and Sutil even led large parts of the race after perfecting his strategy. As they look to repeat this result, the team has made good progress ahead of qualifying in Malaysia tomorrow.

“The morning went okay and the balance was quite good,” said Sutil.

“We made a change during the lunch hour to cure some oversteer and my general feeling with the car is good. I managed a run on the hard and the medium this afternoon so I’ve got a feel for both the tire compounds.”

Sutil finished 6th in Free Practice 1 and 10th in Free Practice 2, and teammate di Resta finished a sold eighth in both sessions. The Scottish driver was also pleased with his Friday pace, although di Resta did admit that he had work to do overnight.

“I think we’ve had a reasonable day. We’ve got some tyre data and first impressions suggest that our performance level is pretty similar to where it was in Melbourne last week. Hopefully we can continue the progress overnight.

“Generally I’m fairly happy but, as always, there’s some work to do tonight to make sure we’re comfortable on both the compounds going into the race.”

Force India will be keen on improving in qualifying, but the team are better-prepared for Saturday than the race on Sunday according to chief engineer Jakob Andreasen.

“We don’t have as much long run data as we would ideally like, but we have enough information to make some sensible predictions.”

If Force India can secure another strong double-score in Malaysia, they would be in a strong position to bridge the gap to the front-runners in China. With tire wear proving problematic for many of the teams this weekend, Sutil and di Resta are likely to benefit from how easy the VJM06 is on its tires.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”