Minardi dismayed by Monza’s uncertain F1 future

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Former Formula 1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi has expressed his dismay at the uncertain future faced by one of the sport’s most iconic circuits: Monza.

Located on the outskirts of Milan, Monza has hosted all but one Italian Grand Prix since the formation of the F1 world championship in 1950, and welcomes Ferrari’s loyal ‘Tifosi’ fan club to the race in their thousands each year.

With the sport taking a more global approach to its scheduling, the race at Monza is at risk of being cancelled upon the expiration of its contract in 2016.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said last July that the race had been “disastrous for us from a commercial point of view”, paving the way for events such as the Qatar Grand Prix to take its place on the calendar.

A number of figures within F1 have spoken out against such a move, with Minardi – owner of the popular Minardi team that raced between 1985 and 2005 – becoming the latest to express his dismay following the demise of the German Grand Prix.

“We are talking about circuits that are part of a nation at the height of motor racing, not only in sport,” Minardi said, referring to Hockenheim and the Nurburgring in Germany.

“However, they will not have a grand prix. This should make us think.

“Formula 1 represents a real economic benefit for state assets. Precisely for this reason, Formula 1 must be treated like the World Swimming Championships, the Olympics or World Football Championships – events in which not only the Sports Federation but also the Government can intervene.

“Do not forget that Italy has the number one cultural heritage in the world, which is envied by all. Therefore, we should use Formula 1 as a magnet to attract tourists, including holiday packages, before and after grand prixs, with worldwide tour operators. Besides, we are talking about a city which is easily accessible by plane and high-speed trains.”

Minardi continued to wish Ivan Capelli, the man tasked with saving the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the best of luck in his challenge.

“I want to wish the President of Milan Automobile Club, Ivan Capelli, good luck for the start of negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone and our ACI President Sticchi Damiani, who cares about the existence of Italian Grand Prix and Monza’s security,” Minardi said.

“He will make every effort to find the right funds and agreements. Monza, along with Silverstone and Monte Carlo, is Formula 1.”

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.”