Helio on IndyCar title race: “We’re not trying to overdo it”

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With a victory at Texas earlier this summer and Top-10 results in all but one race, being steady has put Helio Castroneves atop the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. And so, he and Team Penske will look to keep on that course in the final six races of the year.

“The results we’ve achieved have come from our consistency,” Castroneves said on Wednesday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he and the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series will compete this weekend in the Honda Indy 200 (Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“We’re pushing the limit of the car and myself. We’re not trying to overdo it. If the cars good,  we’ll go for it. If the car’s not good, then we have to find ways to make it happen. That’s what we’ve done in the past. We’ve always been very close [to winning the championship] and right now, things are going our way. Hopefully, we keep it this way.”

Castroneves holds a 29-point lead going into this weekend’s race but Scott Dixon – a four-time winner at Mid-Ohio – has gotten closer to the Brazilian on the strength of three consecutive wins last month at Pocono and the Toronto doubleheader. Considering Dixon’s current run of success and his past body of work at M-O, it’s easy for one to assume that, barring trouble, he’ll find a way to at least shrink Castroneves’ lead further.

But with plenty of racing left in the season, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner is keeping his eyes on what he and his No. 3 Penske squad can control and not on the hard-charging Dixon.

“It was good we’ve had these two weeks off, because our boys have been working to find things to help us that we haven’t seen before,” said Castroneves. “In that aspect, we’re not focusing on what [Dixon] is doing. We’re focusing on what we can do. But we know how good he’s going to be [at Mid-Ohio].”

Watch this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 from Mid-Ohio online and on your mobile device.

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.