Manor in “advanced discussion” with drivers over second seat

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Manor Marussia F1 Team is close to confirming its second driver for its comeback at the Australian Grand Prix on March 15, according to team president Graeme Lowdon.

After falling into administration following last year’s Russian Grand Prix, the team has made a remarkable comeback and will now compete in next weekend’s season-opener in Melbourne.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that the Manor car had passed all of the FIA crash tests and the cargo has now set off for Australia, but the identity of its second driver is still unknown.

Manor confirmed last week that British driver Will Stevens would be filling one of the seats for 2015 after making his F1 debut for Caterham in Abu Dhabi last November.

Speaking to Reuters, Lowdon (pictured) said that the team was close to confirming its second driver for the year, with a number of candidates being considered.

“We are in discussion, very detailed and very advanced discussion, with some very quick young guys,” Lowdon said.

“Manor has always had a history of bringing some great driving talent on to the grid and we really want to try and continue that. There are some young, quick guys around.”

Some of the names linked to the Manor drive include ex-Sauber reserve Giedo van der Garde, McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne and GP2 race winner Johnny Cecotto Jr.

Despite the timeframe being quite tight, Lowdon explained that Manor would need to find the right kind of driver to fit in with its comeback in 2015.

“What we are looking for is a quick driver and with the right temperament to have the challenges that they are going to have in a small team facing this kind of comeback,” he said.

“It’s not a straightforward decision, but hopefully one we can make very soon.”

The official deadline for Manor naming its second driver is Thursday 12th March ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, when the entry list for the race weekend is released by the FIA.

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.”