McLaren: Late season upgrades aiding 2015 development

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has said that the team’s late-season upgrades for the 2014 MP4-29 car will also help with the development of next year’s car.

The British team has endured two difficult seasons in 2013 and 2014, and currently ranks fifth in this year’s constructors’ championship after passing Force India at the last race in Russia.

For some time, McLaren’s focus has been on 2015 when Honda is set to return as an engine supplier, rekindling the famously successful partnership from the late 1980s.

However, Boullier explained to the media earlier this week that the team was planning a major upgrade for the end of the current season, which will aid development of the 2015 car as well as improving its short-term performance.

“We have another major upgrade coming before the end of the season,” Boullier said. “It is not designed to bring an advantage for the double points [in Abu Dhabi], it is more about building the foundations for the future.

“[It’s] 100% applicable to next year’s car.”

The team currently trails Ferrari by 48 points in the constructors’ championship, and could yet seize fourth place off the Italian marque with a strong final trio of races.

Speculation about McLaren’s driver line-up for 2015 continues to rage on, with Jenson Button being linked with a move to the FIA World Endurance Championship should he be forced out of Woking.

The team does plan to make an announcement before the end of the season, leaving little time for it to make a final decision about the future of its drivers – and equally, its drivers little time to make a decision about their own 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.”