Bahrain chiefs keen on opening F1 season

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The management at Bahrain International Circuit has revealed that it is looking to host the opening grand prix of the season permanently.

The track in Sakhir heralded the return of Formula One after the winter break in 2006 (due to Melbourne hosting the Commonwealth Games), and in 2010. However, following the cancellation of the race in 2011, Bahrain has returned to its original placement as the fourth race on the calendar. This could all be set to change though, according to circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani.

“It’s a good start to the season,” Alzayani told Reuters.

“It gives us the chance to have the teams here longer, there is more anticipation, more unknowns, how the cars will react to the new tires, the regulations, the drivers are just back into their rhythm.

“But the decision is not entirely ours. We are talking about 2014 onwards but it’s a bit early to talk about the calendar for 2014.”

Bernie Ecclestone has welcomed the idea, although he did concede that the teams would have to be consulted.

“The only problem we have – not us, but the teams – is the cost of the logistics in coming here and going back to Europe,” Ecclestone said.

However, to get around this, Ecclestone would arrange a pre-season test to be held in Bahrain to make the race more convenient.

“That is one of the advantages of having the first race, in that they can come to the last test and then leave most of their equipment here until race weekend.

“So if we go after the first race, then we will go after a test as well but again that is not our decision.”

The opening race of the season has traditionally been held at Albert Park in Australia, but with their officials uncertain of the future of the grand prix, Bahrain could be set to open the F1 season from 2014 onwards. The timing of the race in Bahrain is also more suited to American and European audiences, which would probably be reflected in the viewing figures.

MORE: Watch FP2, qualifying and the Bahrain Grand Prix online or on your phone or tablet

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.”