Briatore writes off Alonso to Red Bull rumor

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Former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore has dismissed the rumor linking Fernando Alonso with the vacant seat at Red Bull for 2014, believing that the two-time world champion will remain with Ferrari.

Briatore masterminded both of Alonso’s championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006, but he left the sport under a dark cloud following the race-fixing scandal at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Despite seeing Alonso Renault for McLaren in 2007, Briatore does not believe that the Spaniard would walk out on Ferrari in a similar fashion.

Speaking to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, Briatore said: “Fernando has a contract and contracts must be respected. There is no temptation whatsoever.”

A rumor broke at the Hungarian Grand Prix suggesting that Alonso’s manager had met with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, and although Alonso denied that any contact had been made, the plot thickened after he criticized the Ferrari design team and was then publicly rebuked by the team’s president, Luca di Montezemolo.

Briatore believes that it is natural for a driver to want the best possible car, but he is confident that the relationship will improve once Ferrari provide Alonso with a quicker car.

“It’s normal for a racing driver to desire a competitive car and the team must work hard to supply it,” Briatore said. “End of story. Alonso has never said he wants to leave. Ferrari and Alonso remain a winning pairing – he just needs to have a car that allows him to start from the top two rows.”

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.”