Ferrari’s Fry downplays Alonso power unit failure in FP2

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Ferrari technical director Pat Fry downplayed the engine issue that ended Fernando Alonso’s FP2, even though it was one of two Ferraris that had issues during the session (Esteban Gutierrez parked his Sauber at nearly the identical spot exiting Turn 3 later in the session).

Fry was still pleased at day’s end, as Alonso’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen had one of his best Fridays in a while, ending third behind the two Mercedes.

“The fire, it’s a high-mileage Friday engine to be honest,” Fry said during the Friday FIA press conference. “I’m sure every team’s in a similar boat so it doesn’t really affect the strategy that we run on a Saturday and a Sunday, so that side of things, it looks more spectacular and it’s hard work for us to clean it all up but it’s not that big a deal.

“We’ve been trying different setup options with Kimi and he seems happier,” he added. “We’ve been reviewing… it’s been a constant battle for us to try and work out and give him the front end he wants in the car. We’re a little bit closer and it shows that, if we can give him the car that gives him the right feedback, he’s right there and right on the pace.”

Fry noted graining was still an issue for both cars, and wasn’t sure where they stacked up on long-run pace. That may not be much of an issue if rain hits the Interlagos circuit for the remainder of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.

In terms of a longer-form look, Fry is happy with the progress the team has made to open the weekend as it seeks to end the year on a high, and hold off McLaren for fourth in the Constructor’s Championship. To catch Williams for third, it will take a bit of luck.

“Some of the changes that have been emplaced are already paying huge dividends in the way we’re developing next year’s car,” Fry explained. “Only time will tell really. There’s a huge amount of catching-up we need to do but at least there’s the drive to improve the technical process, invest where we need to. It’s a long-term process but the right path is there to get us back to the top.”

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.”