Grosjean hit with grid penalty after queue jumping

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Romain Grosjean has been demoted two places on the starting grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix after jumping the queue at the start of the second stage of qualifying on Saturday.

With a thunderstorm quickly approaching the Sepang International Circuit before the start of Q2, all of the teams sent their drivers out early to queue at the end of the pit lane before the session started in a bid to get a better track position.

Grosjean was called before the race stewards after the session on Saturday when he was accused of not staying in the right place in the pit lane, thus gaining an advantage over the other drivers.

In a simple statement, the stewards confirmed that Grosjean would be demoted two places on the grid because he “failed to leave the pit lane in the order of his arrival”.

Having qualified eighth on Saturday for Lotus, Grosjean will now start the race from tenth place behind Valtteri Bottas and Marcus Ericsson, both of whom gain a position as a result of the decision.

In spite of his penalty, Grosjean remained upbeat following qualifying as he goes in search of his first top ten finish since last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“We had never driven with wets on the car before so it was a bit of a discovery mission but everything was good,” Grosjean said. “It wasn’t an easy qualy, but the team made the right calls.

“It was a safe choice to go out on extremes wets first. We then went onto inters but the timing didn’t allow us to finish our lap so we had to pit. We only did one timed lap in those conditions but we made it and I think we got the best we could.

“The race is going to be interesting. We have quite a mix of cars around us but it’s a long race, it’s a hot race and even without rain, it’s quite a demanding race on the cars and on drivers. It’ll definitely be interesting!”

Grosjean’s teammate, Pastor Maldonado, was caught out by the rain shower, and will start the race from 12th place on the grid as a result.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30a ET tomorrow.

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.”