F1: Jenson Button needs to try harder, says McLaren boss Ron Dennis

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Ron Dennis realizes that his McLaren team has not had the greatest of seasons and doesn’t have the greatest of cars.

But that isn’t keeping him from spurring on his veteran driver, Jenson Button, to do better.

Button, the 2009 World Champion, is ahead of rookie teammate Kevin Magnussen in points but not by a resounding margin (43-29).

After coming up with a solid fourth-place finish in Canada, he regressed in the most recent Grand Prix in Austria, finishing 11th.

“Do I want him to try harder? Of course I do,” Dennis said of Button in a recent interview with Britain’s Sky Sports. “He’s a highly paid Grand Prix driver.

“Yes, we’re not giving him the best car. Yes, it’s challenging for him to win in this car. But he could do his bit. And Kevin has got to make it as difficult for him as possible.”

In regards to Magnussen, Dennis believes that his efforts are giving Button “a big wake-up call.”

Dennis continued: “In some ways, you say: ‘Great, we’ve made a great choice with Kevin.’ But in other ways you say: ‘Come on Jenson, you are a world champion and absolutely one thing you can do on a consistent basis – and you should be doing it – is beating your teammate.”

Button has chalked up a better overall finish than Magnussen in six of the eight races this season, but Magnussen has more finishes in the points with five to Button’s four.

However, since they both hit the podium in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix (Magnussen 2nd, Button 3rd), Button has had the best points finish between the pair with the aforementioned fourth in Canada.

With that said though, it’s clear Button hasn’t exactly blown Magnussen out of the water. Some of that can certainly be placed on the deficiencies of the MP4-29, but it looks like Dennis thinks that Button himself needed a bit of extra motivation, too.

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.”