Rosberg tells Ferrari “game on!” after Vettel’s Malaysia win (VIDEO)

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Following the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Nico Rosberg said that it would be nice if Ferrari could cut the gap to Mercedes and give the German marque some competition in 2014.

Few could have predicted that Ferrari would in fact defeat Mercedes soundly just one race later at the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel clinching his first win for the Italian team in just his second race since leaving Red Bull.

Rosberg struggled with tire management in Malaysia due to the extreme heat, leaving him third at the flag, 3.7 seconds behind teammate Lewis Hamilton.

When asked if he expected Ferrari to fight back so quickly after the race, Rosberg said: “No, but all I can say now on behalf of our team is ‘game on Ferrari!'”

Rosberg appeared to fall foul of a strategy error by Mercedes, with the team putting both of its drivers onto the prime tire early in the race instead of the medium compound.

However, Rosberg refused to take anything away from Ferrari, praising the team for its first win in almost two years.

“I don’t know about the exact details about the strategy because it was quite complex out there,” Rosberg said. “I’m sure we did a good job, and just congrats – Ferrari did an awesome job today. They derserved to win and we’ll be back next race.”

Rosberg has now set his sights on claiming his first win of the season at the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, and vowed to push teammate Lewis Hamilton hard.

“China is a great track for me, so I look forward to that,” Rosberg said. “Of course, we’re going there for the win. Definitely, yes, I’ll be pushing him [Hamilton] hard, definitely.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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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.”