Rosberg closes out Brazilian GP practice fastest

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Nico Rosberg has sent out a statement of intent ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix by completing a clean sweep in practice and topping the third and final session on Saturday morning.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:10.446 to edge out his Mercedes teammate and championship rival in the final classification by one-tenth of a second, continuing his form from Friday that saw him finish fastest in both FP1 and FP2.

Overnight rain had washed away much of the rubber that had been laid down during practice on Friday, meaning that grip levels were low once again. At the start of the session, a number of drivers enjoyed off-track excursions including Hamilton and defending world champion Sebastian Vettel as the first runs on the medium tire were completed.

Both Mercedes drivers opted to bide their time and focus on race runs on the prime compound, ranking towards the bottom of the timesheets as the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas set the pace.

Once Rosberg and Hamilton made the switch to the soft tire though, the usual status quo was restored as both drivers dipped below the record pole position time set by Rubens Barrichello at Interlagos ten years ago.

Massa and Bottas managed to keep up their good pace to finish third and fourth for Williams ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull. In what could be his penultimate F1 race, Jenson Button finished sixth ahead of the two Ferrari drivers, with Fernando Alonso having to bring his session to an early end due to a lack of power on his engine.

Once again though, it was Rosberg on top, suggesting that he will be the man to beat in qualifying later today. However, as he proved himself in Austin, just because you trail in practice means very little when it comes to qualifying, and if rain does fall, Hamilton will be gunning to deny his teammate back-to-back poles.

You can join us for qualifying live on CNBC at 11a ET today.

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.”