Boullier expects McLaren to be up to speed by Spanish GP

4 Comments

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier believes that the team will finally be up to speed by the first European race of the 2015 Formula 1 season in May, following a difficult pre-season

The team has reunited with engine supplier Honda for 2015, but the new power unit has presented a number of problems that have limited the MP4-30’s running in winter testing.

Speaking to the media on Saturday in Barcelona, Boullier said that although McLaren is behind schedule with the new car, he hopes to be fighting towards the front by the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

“We won’t be as ready [for Australia] as we would like but we will do our best, obviously,” Boullier said. “We have covered most of the issues, we have covered most of the systems and the positive is that everything is working as per design and plan.

“Reliability is still a concern, clearly, and I don’t know how long it is going to take to be honest. We have some plans in place now which have been drastically improved in both our organizations working together.

“I think it’s going to take a few races but we should be at least, maybe by Europe, be more competitive.”

The teething problems with the new Honda engine have caused McLaren to lag behind the rest of the field. The team has only once completed more than 100 laps in a day this winter, and on a number of occasions it has had to curtail running completely due to an issue.

The team is also still waiting to hear whether Fernando Alonso will be fit to race in the Australian Grand Prix on March 15 following his accident in testing last week.

Although Boullier is confident that Alonso will be able to race, he said that McLaren is waiting to get approval from the Spaniard’s doctors before confirming its plans.

“We should know next week,” Boullier said. “It’s not in my hands. There is nothing wrong, but I think there is a final check to be done and the green light should be given.”

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.”