Hungarian GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

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In a season that has been dominated by one team, we have enjoyed a surprising number of breakout drives from those not behind the wheel of a Mercedes. The likes of Valtteri Bottas and Jules Bianchi have been impressive, but perhaps no-one has out-performed more than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

The amiable Australian claimed his second win of the season today in sensational fashion, out-thinking and quite simply out-racing Mercedes to beat the Silver Arrows in the dry and bust the myth that doing so was impossible.

Once again, Formula 1 produced a thriller right when we needed it. Here’s the final round-up from the paddock at the Hungaroring.

RACE REPORT

  • A bit of rain, two safety car periods and some awesome racing – today’s race had it all. However, Dan was the man who took to the top step of the podium following a supreme display.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

It’s quite ironic that one day after we find out Flavio Briatore has been tasked with ‘improving the show’ in Formula 1, we get treated to one of the most exciting races of the year.

The same thing happened in Bahrain. Luca di Montezemolo rocked up, moaned about “taxi cab racing”, then made a swift departure when the taxis put on a show under the lights.

So once again, we must ask just what needs fixing in Formula 1? Isn’t it acceptable that sometimes races just aren’t that great? In soccer, you get the occasional 0-0 draw; in football, there are boring games; in tennis, you get a straights set victory. Sport isn’t always going to blow fans away, but when it does – case in point, today – it is phenomenal.

Firstly, many congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo for a superb victory. Red Bull beat Mercedes in the dry thanks to some supreme driving, a bit of luck and some panic for the Silver Arrows. The strategies that Hamilton and Rosberg used were questionable, as was the call for Lewis to let Nico past. Both drove well, but frankly the team should have done better. This is the first time in 2014 that a Mercedes car has finished a race and not been on the podium.

Not only did Ricciardo put a spanner in the Mercedes works, but Fernando Alonso produced another monumental drive for Ferrari. One comment on Twitter said that he could probably drive a washing machine to the podium, and it’s true. He made his soft tires last far, far longer than they had any right to. Had Dan not found another gear, it might have been a first win for Ferrari since Spain 2013. Ultimately, second place is still a superb result, and importantly, it takes the team back above Williams in the constructors’ championship.

As incredible as Hamilton’s drive was, he wasn’t the only one to fight through the field. Kimi Raikkonen started down in 16th and came home sixth for Ferrari, his best result of the year so far. It may not be too groundbreaking, but it is progress nevertheless.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel had a very quiet race. Following the first safety car period, he didn’t appear much in the race save for his spin that he somehow kept out of the wall. His expectations of fighting with Williams were true, although I doubt he thought it would be for positions out of the top five. Felipe Massa came home in fifth for the British team with Valtteri Bottas in eighth.

What a way to sign off for the summer break. Formula 1 now gets a chance to breathe and take a few weeks back before starting the final stint. From Spa, we have eight races in fourteen weeks, then that’s it – 2015 will be upon us before you know it.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”