Gutierrez targets qualifying gains

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Esteban Gutierrez admits he needs to raise his game in qualifying.

Sauber’s rookie driver has been out-qualified by team mate Nico Hulkenberg in all six races so far and has been a second slower than him on average.

“I think we lack qualifying speed,” he said during a Q&A session. “That is something we need to improve to start from a better position because if we start at the front and we do what we did last time out we could finish better, but you have to be consistent through the weekend, not only in qualifying or the race.”

Gutierrez is yet to score a point but did hold the lead for two laps during the Spanish Grand Prix. However he admitted afterwards “for some time I did not know I was leading”.

“But it was a great feeling to do the lap times we were doing, and to enjoy the car with clean air ahead.”

He went on to record the fastest lap during the race: “Knowing that today I was the fastest on the track was very special, a step forward and thanks to the team because we really have worked together on the details to adapt the car to my driving style,” he said.

Sauber have so far failed to replicate the promise they showed during 2012. They are concentrating their development on the rear of the car at the moment and recently introduced an upgraded rear wing.

“It made a difference in terms of stability in curves because we had the problem that we had very little room for mistakes and now the new wing has helped us to improve there,” said Gutierrez.

“The downside is that we lost straight speed and now we have to work on that to improve speed and keep stability. That is why it was so difficult to overtake.”

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.”