Sauber anonymous once again, but Sutil does finish

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A quick pop quiz to begin this article. Without looking, tell me where Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez finished during yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Any idea? I doubt it. Once again, both drivers were pretty anonymous for the entire race, and the team is now just one of three stuck on zero points.

By the way, the answer to that question is 16th and 17th place, with Gutierrez ahead of Sutil.

In fact, Gutierrez didn’t have a bad start. Thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty, he started up in 13th place, and managed to stay there for a little while. Eventually, Vettel, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen all managed to find a way past, and it went downhill from there for the Mexican.

“Obviously, we cannot be happy with this result,” Gutierrez said. “It is not where we want to be. It was a good start, and I managed to gain some positions. After that I just kept dropping back. During the race it was very challenging to keep the tires alive and to have good speed on the straights.

“Nevertheless, we should not lose our motivation. We have the test this week and we need to have the right programme to get things sorted out.”

Adrian Sutil did meet his own target of seeing the checkered flag in Spain, but given that he finished only ahead of the Marussia and Caterham drivers, he has little else to smile about.

“The race was not very exciting for me,” he said. “Unfortunately, the performance of my car was not good and I was struggling with the grip.

“It was a disappointing race for me. We still have a huge problem with the grip level, especially while turning into the corners. We still have to work on this. Now we have to look forward and do better during the upcoming races.”

Given that Simona de Silvestro, Giedo van der Garde and Sergey Sirotkin have all set their sights on a seat with Sauber next season, such a disastrous start to the season is the last thing that either Gutierrez or Sutil would have wanted. The car had undergone some weight loss for the race, but it appeared to have little effect.

Attention will now turn to Monaco in two weeks’ time, but it might take something out of the ordinary for Sauber to score any points at F1’s glamor event.

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.”