Weekend wrap: Lewis Hamilton back on top of the F1 mountain

4 Comments
source: AP
Lewis Hamilton finished off his second World Championship in style. Photo: AP.

Last week, Kevin Harvick won at Homestead-Miami Speedway to capture this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. This past weekend, it was Lewis Hamilton’s turn to claim the F1 World Championship in the same glory.

A brilliant start at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix enabled Hamilton to get the jump on Mercedes teammate/title rival Nico Rosberg, and Rosberg was then severely hampered by an ERS failure on his Merc W05.

While Rosberg faded to 14th, Hamilton went on to hold off a late charge from Williams’ Felipe Massa and win the race – earning his second F1 title in the process.

“This has been an incredible year,” Hamilton said following his victory. “I just cannot believe how amazing this has all been. Coming to this team last year – the decision to come here when a lot of people said it was the wrong choice – the steps we took last year and then coming into this year, it was just unbelievable and then again, as I said, the fan support has been phenomenal.

“I never in a million years thought I’d have that kind of support, so as I said before, this is the greatest moment in my life. It’s very hard to…It feels very surreal. It feels like an out-of-body experience.

“I feel like I’m back here watching this going on, it’s not really happening. So I’m going to really make sure I gift my thanks and count my blessings.”

Our MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith was on the ground at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to cover it all, and you can catch up on all the stories from an electric finale to the 2014 Grand Prix calendar in his Friday, Saturday, and Sunday notebooks.

source:
Bird was the word – and the winner – in Malaysia. Photo: AP.

While Formula One closed out its season, the all-electric Formula E got back to business in the streets of Putrajaya, Malaysia.

There, former GP2 contender Sam Bird turned in a stellar performance en route to his first F-E win. The British racer pulled off a sweet inside move on IndyCar vet Oriol Servia to take the lead early on, and post-car swap, he was able to efficiently use his power supply before returning to the point for good with five laps to go.

Lucas di Grassi recovered from a qualifying gaffe to finish second and maintain the championship lead by a three-point margin over Bird going into next month’s race in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Also rallying for strong results were Sebastien Buemi, who came from the back of the grid to third at the finish, and Jerome d’Ambrosio, who pulled off a similar drive to take fifth place.

source:
Kasey Kahne’s staying for a little bit longer at Hendrick Motorsports. Photo: Getty Images.

The season may finally be over for NASCAR, but the news beat continued to drum for the time being.

Headlining this week’s events was Hendrick Motorsports extending its contract with Kasey Kahne to the 2018 season. Additionally, Kahne will have a familiar face atop the pit box next year as Keith Rodden has returned to the 5 team – now, as its crew chief.

But with Kahne locked in for an additional three seasons (his contract was set to expire at the end of 2015), we couldn’t help but wonder what that meant for the future of new XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott.

Prior to the Hendrick announcements, the hole left by Rodden’s departure from the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team had already been filled. Matt McCall, formerly the lead engineer for 2014 title contender Ryan Newman at Richard Childress Racing, has taken over Rodden’s now-previous role as Jamie McMurray’s CC.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Harvick made the media rounds in New York to discuss his first Sprint Cup title. One of Harvick’s peers, six-time champ Jimmie Johnson, also said he was glad Harvick won while admitting that a Newman title would have been “tough to swallow” after the implementation of the new Chase format.

Finally, the sport lost one of its good ones over the weekend as Denny Darnell, a long-time PR representative that worked with multiple entities within NASCAR, passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”