Vettel looking forward to “special” United States GP

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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has said that he is looking forward to returning to Austin, Texas, next weekend for the second United States Grand Prix to be held at the Circuit of the Americas.

The race is one of just two on the current calendar that Vettel is yet to win, having led a good part of last year’s race before being passed by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton with fourteen laps remaining. The Briton went on to win the race by half a second, but the event as a whole was the real talking point as the F1 world embraced the sport’s return to the United States after a five year hiatus. For Vettel, returning to Austin will be a highlight in a season full of stand-out moments.

“It was fantastic last year,” Vettel said. “It was great to see that there were so many people. Really the special thing that we enjoy, apart from the track itself, is that the whole city was living the grand prix. You could feel that there was a special vibe and that everyone was looking forward to the event. I think it was generally very positive. We obviously look forward to going there again.”

Vettel also spoke about the challenge of the Circuit of the Americas, which has proven to be one of the more impressive ‘new build’ circuits to have graced Formula One in the past few years. The German driver wishes to collect another Pirelli cowboy hat on the podium that replaced the regular headwear given to the top three finishers.

“The track is tricky, very challenging, mixed, with high speed and slow corners. It was nice to be on the podium last year, nice to get a different kind of hat. We’ll try to do it again.”

Currently in the form of his life, Vettel is chasing an unprecedented eighth consecutive win in a single season after claiming his seventh in a row at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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.”