Difficult day for Mercedes as Hamilton and Rosberg struggle

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Following practice on Friday, Mercedes appeared to be the only team that stood any chance of beating Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in Korea, but ultimately the Silver Arrows failed to threaten the German driver’s dominance on Sunday, crossing the line in fifth and seventh.

Lewis Hamilton suffered from aggressive tire wear throughout the race, spending the final eighteen laps of the race stuck behind Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.

“That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team,” Hamilton said after the race. “After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day. After the safety car, we were just losing out in traction to the Sauber.”

Hamilton did force his way past Hulkenberg on more than one occasion only for the German driver to recover the position thanks to the superior straight line speed of the Sauber.

“Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead,” Hamilton conceded. “It was a nice battle with Fernando [Alonso] but it’s hard to take when it’s only for P5 or P6. It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka.”

Nico Rosberg had been set to reach the podium at one point after passing Hamilton for third place, but a spectacular nose and front wing failure seconds later put paid to any hopes he may have had of scoring heavily.

“That was another very tough race for me,” Rosberg said. “I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke. It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control and I could carry some speed back to the pits.”

Eventually, Rosberg was forced to settle for seventh, but Mercedes did manage to cut the gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to just one point.

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.”