Successful surgery for Kimi, anger for Valsecchi at Lotus

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Two Lotus F1 Team bits of news this morning as Free Practice 1 in Austin has been delayed and interrupted due to fog and the medical helicopter being unable to land.

Lotus’ now former driver, Kimi Raikkonen, has had successful back surgery. Here is the official statement from the team:

“As planned, Kimi Räikkönen underwent back surgery yesterday at The University Hospital of Strasbourg. Lotus F1 Team is happy to report that the operation was totally successful, according to Professor Afshin Gangi. Kimi will now rest for a few days & he will start his recovery process as early as next week. Everyone at the track and at Enstone wishes him a quick recovery.”

Lotus has placed the #GetWellSoonKimi hashtag on its pair of chassis this weekend.

Meanwhile, Lotus’ reserve driver, Davide Valsecchi, minced no words about his being passed over for Heikki Kovalainen in the last two races of the season.

Speaking with Italian media, in a blog post via English broadcaster James Allen, the 2012 GP2 champion had this to offer:

“It’s a huge blow to me,” he said. “From the sporting point of view it’s a tragedy. It makes me angry to have lost the battle with Kovalainen who is not a great champion, not even an active driver; his last results were five years ago.  If they had taken Hulkenberg I could have understood, even Maldonado, but this…”

Not only has Valsecchi been glossed over from a reserve driver standpoint, but also from an Italian driver standpoint. The sport hasn’t had one since Jarno Trulli’s hasty departure from Caterham a fortnight before the 2012 season, and along with other GP2 stars Giorgio Pantano and Luca Filippi, there has not been a new Italian driver to make his debut since Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2005 with Red Bull.

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

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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.”