Gastaldi thanks Renault as 20 year partnership with Enstone enters its final race

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi has sent his heartfelt thanks to Renault as the French marque’s partnership with the Enstone F1 operation prepares for its final race in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

Renault first joined forces with the Enstone-based team in 1995, when it was then known as Benetton. That year, Michael Schumacher claimed his second title, marking a good start for the partnership.

In 2001, Benetton was bought out by Renault and turned into a works team for 2002, yielding world championships in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso. Renault took a step back from the operation in 2009 before the team was eventually rebranded as “Lotus F1 Team” for 2012.

Last month, Lotus announced that it would be switching for Mercedes power units for 2015, bringing the 20 season relationship with Renault to an end in Abu Dhabi.

“I think that everyone associated with the team will recall the great days of 1995 and then again in 2005 and 2006 when the titles were won with Michael and Fernando,” Gastaldi said. “Renault Sport has been valued partners and we shared an intricate and evolving partnership. All good things come to an end, as they say, and for 2015 we go our separate ways.

“As with any long-term partnership there were good and bad times. We have many friends at Renault Sport for we genuinely thank them for their expertise during a very long association.”

After finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship last season, 2014 has seen Lotus come back down to earth with a bump, scoring just ten points and failing to finish any higher than eighth in a race. In the off-season, Gastaldi is anticipating a lot of work to ensure that there is no repeat of this in 2015.

“We will leave no stone unturned going in to 2015,” he said. “The pain of 2014 will only inspire us to make sure it does not happen again. For the race teams there will of course be some time to refresh, but straight away we will all be back at the factory and pushing the limit for 2015.

“There will be a lot of work packaging the new Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrain unit as well as the other production, build and then testing and development phases. It will be an exciting time and a genuine fresh page in the history of the team.”

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.”