Formula E: Vergne scores Miami pole for the home team, Andretti FE


MIAMI – Jean-Eric Vergne has scored his second pole position in three attempts (Round 3, Uruguay, was his first) in the FIA Formula E Championship, courtesy of the first sub-1:06 lap of the day in qualifying for the Miami ePrix.

The Frenchman laid down a flier of 1:05.953 in the third of four qualifying groups to secure the top spot in the No. 27 Andretti FE Spark-Renault SRT_01 E.

Andretti Sports Marketing is promoting today’s race, the first for the all-electric open-wheel championship in the U.S. Andretti FE is one of two U.S. teams racing on home soil, along with Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing.

Vergne edged Nelson Piquet Jr. of China Racing, who was also in the third group. Piquet came up just shy at 0.050 of a second back, in the No. 99 car.

Nicolas Prost had held the top spot through the opening two groups. The driver of the No. 8 e.dams entry posted a 1:06.167 in the first group session, as he sought his third pole position in five races (Round 1 at China, Round 2 in Malaysia, although there he had a 10-spot grid penalty following his collision with Nick Heidfeld in China).

Sam Bird, who led free practice in the No. 2 Virgin Racing entry, was fourth with Daniel Abt fifth in the No. 66 Audi Sport ABT car.

Points leader Lucas di Grassi, Abt’s teammate in the No. 11 car, will roll off seventh, one spot behind Stephane Sarrazin in sixth (No. 30 Venturi). He was third of five in the second group, behind Bird and Abt.

Di Grassi entered the weekend with a 10-point lead over Bird (58-48), with the e.dams pair of Prost and Sebastien Buemi lurking.

Jerome d’Ambrosio (No. 7 Dragon Racing), Jaime Alguersuari (No. 3 Virgin Racing) and Nick Heidfeld (No. 23 Venturi) completed the top-10.

Vergne’s teammate, Scott Speed, qualified 11th for his FIA Formula E debut in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport entry. Vitantonio Liuzzi (No. 18 Trulli) was 12th with Salvador Duran (No. 77 Amlin Aguri) 13th, and the last driver within one second at 0.935 back of Vergne.

Buemi and Jarno Trulli were 14th and 15th, with Karun Chandhok, Bruno Senna, Antonio Felix da Costa, Charles Pic and Loic Duval completing the balance of the 20-car grid.

Today’s 39-lap race goes green at 4:05 p.m. ET and local time. The grid opens at 3:30 p.m.

Results are linked here.

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.”