Lotus finding the silver linings ahead of the F1 run-in

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Life for Lotus F1 Team may not seem to be too great at the moment, but deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi is managing to take the positives from a difficult run of form ahead of the final run-in.

There are just seven F1 races remaining in 2014, giving Lotus just a few more opportunities to add to its low haul of eight points for the season. Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have rarely flirted with the top ten positions thanks to the troublesome E22 car, and last time out in Belgium, neither managed to finish the race.

Nevertheless, Gastaldi is choosing to look on the bright side ahead of next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

“We always try to find some, but yes there genuinely were some positives from a tough weekend,” he said. “It is in the DNA of Enstone that even in the hard times we fight for and then maximise what we have at our disposal.

“Despite the initial disappointment of not getting a result we remain super motivated. We knew it would be hard at these power tracks like Spa and Monza. However, Romain did a solid job to get in to Q2 and then after he got a new nose in the race after he was hit by Bianchi at La Source, his pace was good.

“The new parts on the car showed some encouraging signs and if we get better luck and have clean races then we can progress a lot more up the field.”

Gastaldi admitted that the team may struggle at Monza, with the circuit characteristics being very similar to those at Spa, but he is approaching the weekend with an open mind.

“We go there in a difficult position as we are not the fastest in a straight line,” he said. “But we will push to the maximum, matching the passion and spirit we see off the track from the fans, with our usual determination on it.

“We have to dig in and make sure we are in the best position possible for when our luck changes.”

Formula One’s Daniel Ricciardo drawn to NASCAR (and even NFL)

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MONTREAL (AP) Daniel Ricciardo drove go-karts while growing up in Australia and found himself drawn to stock car racing and the big personalities behind the wheels.

“I loved a lot of motorsports, but as far as the ovals go, I was more into NASCAR,” Ricciardo said this month. “Dale Earnhardt was kind of a hero of mine. The No. 3 – it was my first go-kart number, so I already had a bit of affection to No. 3. But being a fan of Dale’s as well, that definitely made me want to run that number.”

In an interview before the Canadian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth in his No. 3 Red Bull, Ricciardo said he saw a lot of similarities between Earnhardt and three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna.

And he wanted to be like them.

“I was so ruthless on track,” Ricciardo said, recalling Earnhardt’s nickname: The Intimidator. “Everyone was intimidated by him. But off-track (they) had a massive following and could balance that aggressiveness with humility off of track. I thought both Senna and Earnhardt carried that really well.”

Speaking to reporters in a Montreal hotel fresh off his victory in Monaco – the seventh of his Formula One career – Ricciardo joked about having to share the spotlight back home after the win with Will Power, who won the Indianapolis 500 on the same day.

It was the first time drivers from the same country had won the two races on the same day. Britain (1965, 1966) and Brazil (1989, 1993) had claimed both victories in the same year.

Ricciardo, who is from Perth in Western Australia, said he was featured on the front page in his home state but didn’t know how the East Coast papers played the news; Power is from Queensland.

“I would probably guess both of us would have gotten – if not front page, the back page,” he said, chuckling. “And if not, shame on them.”

Although Ricciardo said he has followed Power’s career – the IndyCar driver is 9 years his senior – the two have never met. “But I was really happy for him because everyone that’s worked with him tells me that he’s a really hard worker and he’s earned every step of his career,” Ricciardo said.

Like the Indy 500 for IndyCar, Monaco is the signature race of the Formula One season, and Ricciardo’s victory gave him a newfound celebrity. After performing his trademark “shoey” – drinking champagne out of his racing boot on the victory podium, in front of the Monaco royal family – he continued the celebration later by diving into a rooftop swimming pool while still wearing his racing overalls.

It was the conclusion of a fun weekend for him.

Earlier, while standing on the bow of a boat in the port, Ricciardo caught a pass from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – thrown from another boat – and then booted the football back to the Brady on the other yacht.

“I spoke to him a bit. Super-nice guy. I’m sure he gets harassed everywhere he goes,” said Ricciardo, who like the five-time NFL champion is sponsored by Tag Heuer watches. “I never really have expectations when I meet someone of his caliber, but the fact that we spoke and he showed an interest and he was excited to be there, that was cool.”

But the encounter left Ricciardo with one, lingering letdown.

“Australian rules football, we’re used to that shaped balls, catching and kicking. I grew up doing a lot of that. So that’s why I thought I would maybe impress a few people,” he said. “The only thing I’m really, really disappointed with is I haven’t gotten a call from the Patriots yet.

“They’ve got to spot talent when they see it,” he said with a laugh. “I mean this kid can catch. And I can run.”