Rossi makes most of limited running for Caterham in FP1

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One of the busiest men in motorsports this month, Alexander Rossi, had his first free practice one outing of the season aboard Caterham’s Formula One car in Montreal.

The American had a single FP1 outing in Barcelona last year, but this morning marked the first time an American had been in a car on a North American Grand Prix weekend since Scott Speed at Indianapolis in 2007.

Rossi was cautious through the first half of the session as the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track dried out from heavy rain in the morning.

Still, it didn’t mean he wasn’t impressed with the grip levels of Pirelli’s wet-weather tires, in comparison to other rubber he’s driven on.

“Even just in one lap the amount of grip you have in the wet compared to GP2 is huge. It’s amazing, really good…” he reported back to his team on the radio, which was then tweeted out. “For everyone else it’s ‘yeah, it’s too wet to go out’ but for me, from what I’m used to, it’s ‘there’s so much grip!”

Rossi adapted to the changing conditions, noting an acceptable level of understeer in entry and mid-corner, with some power oversteer on exit. Later in the session he performed more aero tests to get used to the KERS on board the car.

Fast times weren’t necessarily the end goal but in Charles Pic’s chassis, Rossi got down to a 1:27.143 in 20 laps. That was nearly a full 1.4 seconds off teammate Giedo van der Garde, but Rossi got limited running when the track was its driest at the end of the session.

He leaves Montreal straightaway to head to Le Mans, for the Sunday test day ahead of the 24-hour race there June 22-23. Rossi will co-drive the No. 41 Caterham-backed Zytek Nissan for Greaves Motorsport in the LMP2 class, with Eric Lux and Tom Kimber-Smith.

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.”