Vettel edges out Alonso in dry second practice

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Sebastian Vettel has put his miserable result in FP1 behind him to finish with the quickest time in the second free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The defending world champion looked strong in the dry conditions, finishing 0.017 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in second, and Mark Webber also impressed to come third for Red Bull, also within one-tenth of Vettel’s time.

Many drivers went out early in order to make up for the time lost in FP1 due to rain, and it was obvious from the outset that Red Bull and Ferrari would be vying for top spot. Lewis Hamilton did lead briefly, but a slight spin proved that he was pushing too hard, and he could only finish sixth in the end. Force India suffered worse fortune, with Paul di Resta having a tire failure which forced him to pull over at pit exit.

Lotus had a mixed practice as Kimi Raikkonen ran well to finish fourth, but Romain Grosjean could only come home in P18, ahead both Caterham and Marussia drivers, with that battle appearing to be evenly-matched heading into qualifying tomorrow. Felipe Massa backed up his P2 in FP1 with a fifth-placed finish, with Nico Rosberg ending up behind his teammate in P7. Scuderia Toro Rosso appear to have made the biggest gains during the break, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo coming P9 and P11 respectively; a result which the team will be very pleased with.

Less pleased with their development will be McLaren and Williams, both of whom required a big step forward for the Spanish Grand Prix. Jenson Button finished down in P12 with his teammate one place further back, whilst Valtteri Bottas outperformed Pastor Maldonado once again in the Williams, with the Finn finishing in 14th whilst last year’s race winner Maldonado could only finish 16th.

Practice suggests that Red Bull and Ferrari are once again the teams to beat, with Lotus and Mercedes chasing closely. The small difference between Vettel, Alonso and Webber suggests that these could be the three drivers battling for the win this weekend, all having previously won at the Circuit de Catalunya. It all points towards a thrilling qualifying and race.

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.”