Verstappen impresses on first weekend as a Red Bull junior

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Max Verstappen has immediately shown why Red Bull worked so hard to get his signature for its junior programme after a trio of fine displays at the Nurburgring this weekend.

The 16-year-old currently races in the FIA F3 European Championship, with the next step towards F1 being either GP2, GP3 or Formula Renault 3.5. After an impressive start to the year, the Dutch youngster was signed by Red Bull to its junior programme earlier this week, and appears to be in line for a Formula 1 seat in a few years’ time.

At the Nurburgring this weekend, Verstappen produced three superb performances. After securing pole position for the first race on Saturday, he won ahead of Ferrari youngster Antonio Fuoco, but could not double up after an engine problem sidelined him in the second race.

After taking a ten place grid penalty, Verstappen started the third and final race from 12th place, yet he was up to fifth by the end of the first lap. He eventually came home in third, capping off a quite superb weekend of racing.

This youngster is without a doubt one of the stars of the future, with some even suggesting that he could be given an F1 debut next season and become the youngest ever driver the sport has seen.

However, his father, Jos – himself an ex-F1 driver – is being more realistic about his son’s chances.

“Max to Toro Rosso? We will wait and see,” Jos is quoted as saying by Planet F1. “We will discuss this together with Red Bull as they continue with Max.”

Regardless of when he makes his F1 debut, Max Verstappen is a name that is worth remembering for the future.

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.”