Alonso: Hamilton is the favorite for the championship

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Fernando Alonso believes that Lewis Hamilton’s experience from previous title fights makes him the favorite to win this year’s Formula 1 world championship.

The Spanish driver raced alongside the Briton at McLaren in 2007 as both fought for the drivers’ championship, only for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to snatch the title at the final round.

Hamilton went on to win his only world title in 2008, but was also in contention for the 2010 championship until the last round of the season. This year, he is looking to secure his first championship since joining Mercedes, and finds himself embroiled in a tight battle with teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the standings.

For Rosberg, this season marks his first shot at a championship since making his F1 debut back in 2006.

Speaking to NBCSN in the Monza paddock yesterday, Alonso said that he thinks this experience will aid Hamilton come the final few races of the season.

“I don’t think that Lewis needs any learning for the fight,” the Ferrari driver explained. “I think he has the talent and he has the abilities to fight for the championship already from the first year that he arrived.

“It is true that in this fight he is maybe more ready because it is not the first time that he will fight for a world championship.

“That when there is one race to go could make a difference, and probably right now, he is the favorite.”

Alonso was also asked about his future with Ferrari, and once again said that he will be looking to stay with the team for 2015 relying that everything is in place.

“I think my intention is to be with them, and to win with Ferrari,” he said. “My priority is to win the world championship, and I have two more years with Ferrari and we need to create this project to come back to the top.

“If nothing [strange] happens, I should be at Ferrari next year.”

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.

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“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.”