Vettel struggles to finish sixth in Bahrain (VIDEO)

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Sebastian Vettel has spoken about his struggles during a difficult Bahrain Grand Prix that saw him finish in sixth place, and lose more ground to the Mercedes drivers in the championship race.

The German driver missed out on Q3 yesterday and started down in tenth place, but a poor start and lack of pace meant that he was never really in the hunt for big points. In fact, sixth was a somewhat fortuitous result for the four-time world champion after a safety car period scuppered Williams’ hopes of a double top-five finish.

“I think it was a busy race today, especially at the end after the safety car, but it’s a shame we couldn’t get further up,” he explained. “Daniel proved that there was a little bit more to get from the car today, I couldn’t really get to that bit, so I’m not so happy with my day.”

Vettel faced the ignominy of being told to allow teammate Daniel Ricciardo past, sparking wry smiles and jokes of “Multi 31”, before being passed on track once again by the Australian driver in the dying stages of the race.

“For some reason we seemed to be really slow on the straights, and not just against the Mercedes,” he said. “Merc has a stronger package, so there’s work ahead of us. It was straight forward with Daniel today, we worked well together as a team and we raced well, but surely I would like to have finished higher up.”

The German driver now trails championship leader Nico Rosberg by 38 points, and will be hoping that the team can rediscover its title-winning form sooner rather than later.

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.”