Fernando Alonso storms to Chinese GP victory

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Fernando Alonso has won the Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton following an excellent display of tire management and sheer pace.

The Spanish driver made a strong start from third, staying on pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton’s tail in the early stages of the race before making a move on the Mercedes into turn one. From there, Alonso didn’t look back, leading by as much as 19 seconds at times, and he eventually claimed the win 10 seconds ahead of Raikkonen.

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There was a great split in strategies throughout the race, but Alonso managed to pit at the right times to stay ahead of Hamilton and Raikkonen. The Lotus driver got the jump on Hamilton at the final round of stops, pitting a few laps early to take advantage of the undercut.

Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button both started on the harder tire, and they got ahead after the soft runners pitted. Button managed to stop just twice, coming home in 5th, whilst Vettel utilized the soft tires late on to come home a close fourth, just 0.2 seconds behind Hamilton. Felipe Massa ran as high as 2nd at one point, but he could not match his teammate’s pace, finishing 6th ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. This was the Toro Rosso driver’s best ever finish in the sport, and he very nearly caught the Ferrari at the end. Paul di Resta also ran strongly to finish 8th after pitting late, whilst Romain Grosjean will be disappointed with 9th after challenging Raikkonen and Hamilton early on. Nico Hulkenberg completed the points, and Sauber’s strategy seemed to cost them after the German driver ran with compatriot Vettel early on.

Nico Rosberg failed to finish after stopping three times, and Mark Webber’s weekend ended in retirement also after his rear-right wheel came off his car. Red Bull are expected to be sanctioned for this, whilst many drivers are under investigation for using DRS under yellow flags.

For Alonso, this win marks his return to form after failing to finish in Malaysia, and he will be pleased to have taken 13 points out of Vettel’s championship lead. After a rather uneventful qualifying, the race turned out to be an excellent display of both tire management and great racing, and Formula One fans will be hoping for more of the same in Bahrain next weekend.

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.”