Tost excited by prospect of Renault buying Toro Rosso

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Franz Tost believes that a rumored sale of Scuderia Toro Rosso to French manufacturer Renault could provide the boost required to allow his team to break into the top five in Formula 1.

Following the Australian Grand Prix, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said that the energy drink brand could quit F1 completely unless changes are made to the current regulations.

This only fuelled rumors of a possible sale of Toro Rosso – which is owned by Red Bull – to Renault, who is thought to be seeking a return with a factory team.

When asked about the speculation in Friday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Tost said that a possible sale could be very lucrative for Toro Rosso.

“I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Toro Rosso to make the next step forward,” Tost said.

“The team wants to be established in the future within the first five in the constructors’ championship and to be part of a manufacturer, to work together with a manufacturer, to be owned by a manufacturer would be exactly this step forward which the team needs to be established in the first five.”

Renault engine chief Cyril Abiteboul was also asked about the rumors, and said that the French marque was considering a number of options for its F1 future – one of which was quitting the sport altogether.

“I can confirm that we are looking at a lot of options, including getting out of Formula 1,” Abiteboul said. “Honestly, if Formula 1 is that bad for Renault’s reputation, if we see that we struggle with the current formula, if Formula One is not delivering value what it costs Renault […] this is what we are looking at.

“Obviously we think that we are a credible player in the sport but we want to compete amongst the best brands and that Formula 1 is good for us as a brand, then we need to think about what else can we do to what we are doing.

“If you do that, this is an open market, we have the capacity to have discussions with lots of parties. But as I’ve said, for the time being the focus is on engines.”

Renault last raced in F1 with a full works team back in 2009, having bought out Benetton in 2002. The operation now exists as Lotus F1 Team, which cut all ties with Renault at the end of 2014.

As Red Bull’s B-team, it is interesting that Tost expressed such support for a sale to a manufacturer such as Renault. The subtext to this is the belief that, so long as Red Bull owns Toro Rosso, it will forever be a midfield outfit with little hope of breaking into the top five teams.

Regardless of Red Bull’s own involvement in F1, should Dietrich Mateschitz – the owner of the energy drink brand – decide that Toro Rosso has fulfilled its purpose of nurturing future drivers for the main team, then a possible sale could occur without a complete withdrawal from F1.

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.”