Hamilton completes a clean sweep in US GP practice

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Lewis Hamilton has completed a clean sweep of the practice sessions for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix after edging out Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg once again in FP3 on Saturday morning.

The British driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.107 to finish 0.8 seconds ahead of Rosberg in second place as he looks to secure a fifth straight win in Austin this weekend and extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.

The final practice session at the Circuit of The Americas on Saturday saw drivers split their running between long-run race simulations and low-fuel qualifying runs, and yet again, the Mercedes drivers were the class of the field.

In FP2 on Friday, just 0.003 seconds had separated the championship protagonists, but Hamilton enjoyed a slightly bigger advantage in FP3 after Rosberg struggled with a brake disc problem, forcing Mercedes to make a change on his car.

When the German driver eventually posted a fast lap time, he was some eight-tenths of a second down on his teammate, with Felipe Massa of Williams a further three-tenths adrift in third place.

Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso both enjoyed brief spell at the top of the timesheets in FP3, only to eventually finish up in fourth and fifth place respectively. Daniel Ricciardo bounced back from a difficult Friday to finish sixth ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Adrian Sutil, with the latter’s result certainly coming as a surprise. Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button rounded out the top ten.

Qualifying begins at 2p ET today, and you can watch the entire session live on NBC with a re-air of FP3 starting at 1p.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

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.”