Massa hoping to leave Ferrari on a high

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Felipe Massa is keen on leaving Ferrari in the best possible fashion after it was confirmed last week that the Brazilian driver would not be racing for the team in 2014.

Massa joined the team in 2003 as a test driver before eventually stepping up to become Michael Schumacher’s teammate in 2006. During his eight seasons with the team, he has won eleven grands prix and came close to winning the world championship in 2008. Having enjoyed such success with the team, he is keen on leaving in the best possible fashion.

“I think the expectation is always to try to do the best in these last seven races,” Massa explained. “I’ve had a fantastic career together with Ferrari, for a long time. It’s a large part of my story.

“The most years of my career are with Ferrari: eight years as an official driver, but also a few years as a young driver. I lived near Ferrari in 2003. I went there every day for the team and for the drivers, so I know everyone who is working there. I have a lot of friends inside the team, so I want to finish in the best way possible in these seven races, and try the best we can to have the best results.”

Massa suffered a huge accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, forcing him to miss the remainder of that season. The fact that he was able to return to the wheel of the car for the 2010 season was staggering, yet his on-track performances failed to match those of teammate Fernando Alonso. Although he has helped Alonso’s bid to become world champion with Ferrari, his lack of pace has seen the Italian marque fail to challenge for the constructors’ since 2008.

Kimi Raikkonen will take Massa’s place at the team in 2014.

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.”