Vergne: Lack of consistency cost me Red Bull seat

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Jean-Éric Vergne believes that a lack of consistency has cost him a shot at the Red Bull seat for 2014 as the defending world champions turn their attention to his Toro Rosso teammate, Daniel Ricciardo.

Vergne has outscored Ricciardo so far this season, picking up thirteen points compared to the Australian’s eleven. Furthermore, Vergne has the best result of the two drivers during their eighteen months together as teammates in F1, with his sixth-place finish at the Canadian Grand Prix also being the team’s best result since Sebastian Vettel’s final race for Toro Rosso. However, a lack of consistency has, in Vergne’s eyes, been his downfall.

“Red Bull is the world champion team and it needs a driver who is going to score points at every race to win the title,” Vergne explained in an interview with L’Equipe. “If you look at the results this year, I’ve scored more points than Ricciardo, but he’s finished all the races, I haven’t.

“I have a label on my back. Even if it’s false, in the paddock Ricciardo is seen as consistent and I’m not.”

In 2013, Vergne has scored points on three occasions and retired four times, whereas Ricciardo has retired just twice. Despite the portrayed gulf between the two drivers in Vergne’s rejection, it is one of the closest inter-team battles on the grid. Vergne did concede that retiring from so many races fails to put him in a good light.

“The choice is complicated,” Vergne continued. “Horner isn’t the only one making the decision. Adrian Newey has a say, as does Dietrich Mateschitz and Helmut Marko.

“I understand the risks they take, hiring a young driver like Daniel or me. And seeing a driver who doesn’t finish half his races unsettles them.”

Red Bull are expected to make a decision in the coming weeks over their driver line-up for 2014.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”