Grosjean: Lotus won’t be ready for Melbourne

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Romain Grosjean has conceded that Lotus are behind schedule ahead of the new Formula 1 season, and that due to the nature of the technical regulations this year, it may take another month before they are finally ready.

The seismic change in the technical regulations has put enormous amounts of pressure on the design teams in the sport. Most notably, world champions Red Bull have struggled to adapt during the winter testing period. Despite having few problems in Bahrain, Lotus missed the opening test in Jerez, immediately putting the team behind schedule. Now, Grosjean has admitted that it is taking longer than expected to prepare for the 2014 season.

“The problem this year is that when you break something it takes between two and three hours to solve the problem, so if you have three issues in a day that’s the end of the day,” Grosjean explained to journalists in Bahrain on Saturday.

“In terms of preparation we are not quite yet ready.”

Like many drivers, Grosjean is focusing on merely finishing the opening round of the season in Australia (live on NBCSN on March 16) before the E22 car can really be put to good use.

“It’s not going to be perfect for Melbourne, and probably not for Malaysia, but we will do our best and try to do things as good as we can do them to steadily improve everything.

“The list is too long to have ticked everything before Melbourne, and in Melbourne we won’t have time to get everything we would like to.

“At the moment this is the situation and the best we can do is take the most serious one, put that right and then finalize the thing. It’s not going to be an easy first few races I guess.”

Grosjean enjoyed a successful second half of the 2013 F1 season, but he will be hard-pressed to carry this form over into the first few rounds of the coming year. Given that both Lotus and engine supplier Renault are behind schedule, it might be a case of ‘damage limitation’ for the Frenchman to begin with this year.

However, most drivers and teams are in the same position; the drastic changes made to the technical regulations are set to shake-up the pecking order and perhaps give teams such as Williams and Force India a chance to battle for podiums and race wins in 2014.

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.”