Hakkinen comments on Bottas rumors, backs Hamilton over team orders

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Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen is not surprised by speculation linking protegé Valtteri Bottas away from Williams for 2015.

The Finn has been the breakout driver of the season so far, scoring three podium finishes and the majority of Williams’ points. After a difficult 2013 campaign with a troublesome car, Bottas has now flourished and met the expectations that many had for him.

Naturally, this has led to speculation about his future, with British newspaper The Guardian linking the Finn with a move to McLaren for 2015. For Hakkinen, this comes as little surprise.

“This is quite natural,” the Finn wrote in his column for Hermes. “Valtteri is still a young driver who has been in Formula 1 for only a short time.

“Valtteri is interesting not only because of his speed; he can motivate the others in the team and manages to create an atmosphere, as it is necessary for success.

“There is interest and that is good. What happens in the future remains to be seen.”

Hakkinen also gave his support to Lewis Hamilton following the Briton’s decision to ignore team orders during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton was given the call to let teammate Nico Rosberg past as they were on different strategies, but did not allow him to do so. He eventually finished the race ahead of Rosberg, cutting the German’s championship lead to eleven points.

“Nico had the greater pace and softer tires, so the team thought Lewis should let Nico past for the best result,” Hakkinen wrote. “Lewis, of course, looked and noticed that Nico was not close enough in the rear-view mirror.

“He probably worked out that it made no sense to let Nico past because he would lose two seconds and a place on the podium. In my opinion, Lewis was right.”

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.”