Japanese GP red flagged due to torrential rain

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The Japanese Grand Prix has been red flagged after just one lap behind the safety car due to torrential rain at Suzuka today.

The race started under the safety car at Suzuka due to the heavy rainfall, onset by Typhoon Phanfone, but the FIA stewards soon deemed the conditions to be too bad to allow them to continue behind Bernd Maylander.

It was confirmed last week that Typhoon Phanfone was circulating in the Pacific, and would be making its way towards Japan across the course of the race weekend at Suzuka.

However, it has now hit at the worst possible moment, causing the race to be suspended despite the FIA trying to get an earlier start time. FIA race director Charlie Whiting made his concerns clear to the race promoters, Honda, but the Japanese manufacturer refused to move the time the flag dropped.

This post will be updated accordingly with news of a possible restart. For more updates, be sure to follow @F1onNBCSports on Twitter.

UPDATES

0205 ET – The race has been red flagged, with all of the drivers heading back to the pit lane in the order they were running. The only difference to the grid is that Marcus Ericsson is now last after spinning off behind the safety car.

0215 – The race will resume at 0225 thanks to a slight break in the rain. They will restart under the safety car on lap three.

0222 – Apparently this break in the weather will last for another 20 to 30 minutes, after which it will intensify once again. We’re going to get some running, but hopes of reaching the full distance of 53 laps are slim.

0225 – Race restarted under the safety car. Fernando Alonso is out due to an electrical problem on his Ferrari.

0232 – Valtteri Bottas is told that the predicted rain will come later than expected, and the drivers could reach lap 40 to warrant full points being awarded.

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.”