Mercedes celebrates F1 success with “Stars and Cars” homecoming

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One week on from Lewis Hamilton’s sensational Formula 1 world championship victory in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes celebrated its incredible success across the course of the 2014 season at its “Stars and Cars” homecoming event in Germany today.

Some 50,000 fans ventured to Mercedes’ home city of Stuttgart for the event on Saturday, with a temporary show run circuit being built to allow the drivers to showcase their cars.

Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg were the stars of the show, celebrating a record-breaking year for Mercedes that saw the German marque win its first F1 championships since the 1950s when Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss were racing.

Moss was just one motorsport legend to make an appearance at the event, and was joined by Niki Lauda, Hans Herrmann and Klaus Ludwig.

Having enjoying a remarkable turnaround in fortunes in 2014 since switching to Mercedes engines, Williams was also represented in Stuttgart by Valtteri Bottas and test driver Susie Wolff.

Still basking in the glory following his victory in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton was quick to thank all of the fans that made the trip to celebrate Mercedes’ year.

“The reception from the fans here in Stuttgart was absolutely indescribable,” Hamilton said. “I celebrated my first world title with spectators here at Stars & Cars back in 2008, but this year, they have topped even my expectations. The atmosphere was fantastic and a fitting conclusion to this incredible season.

“I never thought in a million years that I would receive such support. Winning this title was the best moment of my life. The team turned in an extraordinary performance, for which I would like to thank all my colleagues in the factories at Brackley, Brixworth and here in Stuttgart. Our progress since last year has been absolutely phenomenal.”

An array of classic cars were on show at the event, including a grand prix racer dating back 100 years from the French Grand Prix.

“This event was the most fitting way to bring to a close this wonderful anniversary season, celebrating 120 years of motorsport and 80 years of the Silver Arrows,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said. “We could not have devised anything better. Stars & Cars gave us the chance to say thank you to our loyal fans for their great support after a long motor racing season.

“It was just brilliant to hear the engines of current and classic Silver Arrows firing up around the Mercedes-Benz museum. Once again this year, Stars & Cars provided a unique blend of modern and classic motor sport.”

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.”