Alonso won’t kid himself about podium chances

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Fernando Alonso has refused to say that he will be in contention for a podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, believing that it would be a lie to do so.

The Spaniard finished on the podium at the last race in China after edging out Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the final few laps. However, with all of the teams set to bring upgrades to the race that should give their cars added performance and pace, the pecking order could be shaken up once again, and for this reason Alonso is unsure of his chances.

“We cannot start the weekend thinking to be on the podium, thinking to win the race,” he explained on Thursday in Spain. “That will be creating wrong and false targets to everyone that will come here.

“We finished ninth and tenth in Bahrain, we did podium in China because we had some things putting together on that Sunday but it’s not that we are in a position now to say we will fight for the podium here.”

Alonso won last year’s race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but the field was far closer back then. In 2014, Mercedes has won the opening four races of the season with relative ease, and the German team looks set to make it five on the bounce this weekend.

Nevertheless, Alonso is going to do all he can to give the Spanish fans something to smile about on Sunday.

“We will do our best but we know that it’s going to be a tough weekend, not going to be easy,” he said. “But you never know, this is sport and anything can happen.

“But today, sitting here, if I tell you that I will fight for the podium, probably I will lie to you and I don’t want to do so for all the people coming.”

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.”