Ecclestone: No concerns about taking F1 to Russia in six weeks’ time

2 Comments

Bernie Ecclestone has once again affirmed his support for the Russian Grand Prix, which is set to take place in six weeks’ time amid concerns about tensions in the region.

Political relations with Russia have been tenuous following the crisis in the Crimea and the recent MH17 disaster, casting doubt on the viability of the planned grand prix in Sochi.

The eleven teams have stood by the FIA and the commercial rights holder, saying that if the race goes ahead they will be happy to take part.

Ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, F1 supremo Ecclestone confirmed to Reuters that he had zero concerns about the race going to plan.

“We have a contract,” he said. “Our friends there, they are happy with the contract so we’ll be there.

“If people have got arguments with Russia maybe they have [issues]. I don’t know. We haven’t got any.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting visited the circuit earlier this week, and was full of praise for the facility that has been built around the complex that hosted the Winter Olympics earlier this year.

Although concerns about the race in Russia will linger until the race weekend itself, Formula 1 does look set to venture to the nation for the first time in 100 years.

A common misconception is that this will be the first Russian Grand Prix. It will indeed be the first that is part of the official Formula 1 world championship, but two grand prix events were held in 1913 and 1914 around the streets of St. Petersburg before the outbreak of the First World War. Therefore, the 2014 will actually be the third Russian Grand Prix.

F1 has said that it is not looking to make any kind of political statement by going to Russia, but is instead focusing on taking the sport to a new and exciting market in 2014.

The race is set to take place on October 12th this year.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”