Report: Caterham talks still ongoing, says Kovalainen

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Heikki Kovalainen is one of several drivers in the hunt for one of the two open seats at Caterham but with ex-Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi recently entering the picture, one could argue the Finn’s hopes for a full-time Formula One ride in 2014 are fading.

However, the Finn has told homeland broadcaster MTV3 that talks with the Leafield, UK-based team are still ongoing and that he is preparing for the upcoming season.

“I have been maintaining my training program for Formula One as much as possible,” he said. “I will have a normal F1 driver’s winter. The only difference to previous years is that I do not currently have a contract for next season.

“But this has happened more than once in my career, when I didn’t know what awaited me for the future but eventually I had something.”

Kovalainen raced for Lotus Racing/Caterham for three seasons before both he and Vitaly Petrov were dumped after the 2012 season in favor of Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic.

But the team eventually brought Kovalainen back as a reserve driver before letting him go to Lotus to replace Kimi Raikkonen in the final two events of 2013 at Austin and Interlagos – a venture that proved unsuccessful on the scoreboard as he was unable to earn any points for Lotus in those events.

According to Kovalainen, his “most serious negotiations” regarding a full-time return to F1 are with Caterham. However, he admitted that his 2014 plans are still up in the air.

“…All the different factors need to come together,” he warned. “In any case, it should be clarified by the end of January, when the tests begin. But I am not going to end my career.”

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.”