Button leads Jerez Day 2; Renaults have issues

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Jenson Button posted the fastest time on the second day of Formula One’s opening four-day test at Jerez, but reliability and limited running remained the bigger story compared to times.

For what it was worth though, Button’s quickest time was nearly three seconds faster than the best posted by Kimi Raikkonen on Tuesday. Button clocked in at 1:24.165 after 43 laps of running in the McLaren MP4-29, compared to Raikkonen’s 1:27.104.

Additionally, it was a good sign for McLaren to get out after electrical issues blighted their day on Tuesday.

Raikkonen was second with a 1:24.812 after 47 laps aboard the Ferrari F14 T. Valtteri Bottas logged 35 in the Williams Fw36 at 1:25.344, with Nico Rosberg fourth at 1:25.588 in the new Mercedes.

Rosberg’s 97 laps Wednesday were four more than the combined total for the field on Tuesday.

Meanwhile Renault was left to go back to the drawing board after a frustrating day, with a suspected energy-storing issue.

Sebastian Vettel turned only eight laps in the RB10, with an unrepresentative fast time.

“We’ve not had a lot of running and have a few problems to sort out, but with such big rule changes it’s usual to have teething problems. That’s what tests are for, to sort those issues out,” said the four-time defending World Champion.

F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson’s day wasn’t much better as he posted only 11 laps in the new Caterham CT05.

Toro Rosso didn’t run at all, and Marussia failed to make it out of the garage with its yet-to-be-officially-unveiled MR03. Lotus, of course, isn’t at the test at all.

Some driver changes will occur for Thursday’s running, as teams continue to work through the development and niggling issues on their new cars.

1. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:24.165, 43 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.812, 47 
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes, 1:25.344, 35
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:25.588, 97
5. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes, 1:28.376, 37
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber-Ferrari, 1:33.270, 53
7. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham-Renault, 1:37.975, 11
8. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault, 1:38.320, 8

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.”