Ricciardo gave his all, and is rewarded with front row start

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Daniel Ricciardo equalled his best-ever qualifying result in Formula 1 today at the Chinese Grand Prix with second place, but he could not catch pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton as he gave everything he could in the wet conditions.

The Australian driver lined up in second place at the first race of the season in Melbourne, but he was disqualified after finishing second on track due to a fuel irregularity. After scoring his first points for Red Bull in Bahrain, Ricciardo is looking to secure his first podium finish in Formula 1 this weekend in China, but his first pole was just out of reach on Saturday.

“I couldn’t have got anything extra out of the car on that last lap, I got everything I could out of it,” Ricciardo explained. “For that I’m pleased and I got rewarded with a front row place for tomorrow.

“It took a while to get going in the session today, I didn’t have the comfort or pace that I was aiming for, but I got it at the end. I feel like I’m ready to get a good result, I know it’s never going to be easy but I’m prepared for the fight tomorrow and I’ll embrace it.”

The rain-affected qualifying session on Saturday did appear to give Red Bull more of a chance of denying Mercedes a fourth straight pole position, but ultimately Hamilton had the edge on his rivals. Ricciardo even had one more run than the Briton, yet it was not enough as he finished six-tenths of a second behind the pole-sitter.

By finishing second, Ricciardo outqualified illustrious teammate Sebastian Vettel for the third time in four races. Despite some concerns about his suitability for Red Bull after finishing no higher than seventh in two seasons with Toro Rosso, the young Australian has already settled in and proven himself at the champion team.

“I couldn’t have settled into the team any better to be honest,” he said. “They made me feel at home very quickly and it’s helping me. I’m really enjoying the driving and it seems to be showing with the results.”

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.”