Rosberg fastest once again as downpour continues at Interlagos

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Nico Rosberg has continued to tame the tricky conditions in Brazil after finishing fastest during the second free practice session for this weekend’s season-ending grand prix at Interlagos.

The German driver finished ahead of compatriot Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Mark Webber with a best time of 1:27.306, underlining Mercedes’ impressive pace in the damp conditions ahead of what looks set to be the first wet grand prix of the year on Sunday.

After wet weather meant that there was little meaningful running during the first practice session on Friday morning in Brazil, conditions failed to improve ahead of the second session later in the day. Once again, the wet and intermediate tires were required at Interlagos, meaning that Pirelli was forced to postpone the running of the prototype compound until Saturday morning.

A number of drivers were caught out in the wet conditions despite being on the correct tire, as Charles Pic and Lewis Hamilton both had spins. However, Nico Rosberg looked set to finish fastest once again as he had in the morning, but conditions improved drastically with a few minutes remaining. This saw the German driver battle with both Red Bull drivers for top spot as the track continually improved in grip, but Mark Webber’s charge was curtailed by a KERS failure, meaning that he had to settle for third place despite a late improvement. Sebastian Vettel also failed to better Rosberg’s time, resulting in his compatriot finishing fastest for the second time in practice for the race.

Heikki Kovalainen continued to impress ahead of his final race for Lotus by finishing in fourth place, whilst Jean-Eric Vergne bounced back from a disappointing result in FP1 to finish sixth for Toro Rosso.

The teams will be hoping for some dry running on Saturday morning in order to evaluate their pace in the dry, but with rain set to hit Interlagos for the race on Sunday, it could prove to be meaningless.

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.”