Reports: Hulkenberg set to return to Force India

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Nico Hulkenberg could be set to make a return to Force India after just one season away, according to reports from portions of the German media in Brazil this weekend.

The German driver has been one of the most talked about people in Formula One this season, having been linked with moves away from Sauber to four or five teams due to the fragile nature of the driver market for next season. He came agonizingly close to joining Ferrari, but the team opted to withdraw its contract offer at the last minute in favor of signing Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus.

Hulkenberg is known to be chasing the seat at Lotus to be the Finn’s replacement, and team principal Eric Boullier has admitted that the German driver is his preferred choice. However, with the team’s unstable financial status being cause for concern and the ‘deal or no deal’ saga with Quantum Motorsport ongoing, it appears that Hulkenberg has decided to move back to Force India to be sure of a seat next season.

According to Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport: “The deal could be announced in the next few days, maybe even right after the Brazilian GP.”

Should this materialize, it would most probably leave Paul di Resta without a seat for 2014, and the Scottish driver has said that he is open to a move to IndyCar should he fail to find a spot with an F1 team.

However, deputy team principal Bob Fernley told the BBC that there would have to be a “jolly good reason” for the team to make any changes to its line-up for 2014.

Having missed out on all of the available seats with the front running teams, Hulkenberg’s return to Force India will be seen as a coup for the midfield outfit, although keeping hold of him for more than one year could prove to be more of a challenge.

What is truly baffling is that despite four of the five front-running teams making at least one change to their driver line-up in 2014, Hulkenberg – possibly the most underrated driver on the grid – hasn’t been snapped up by any of them.

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.”