Merhi defends decision to race in both F1 and Formula Renault 3.5

1 Comment

Manor driver Roberto Merhi has defended his decision to race in both Formula 1 and Formula Renault 3.5 in 2015, saying that he needs to take part in a series where he can be competitive and fight at the front of the field.

Merhi came close to making his F1 debut with Caterham in 2014 when he joined the team in a test role, but opted to return to Formula Renault 3.5 for 2015 after the British team collapsed following months of financial uncertainty.

Despite signing a deal with Pons Racing in the series that he finished third in last season, Merhi was signed by Manor Marussia F1 Team in a last-minute deal following the team’s remarkable revival following a difficult winter that saw most of its assets be sold.

The Spaniard made his full F1 debut at the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend, but had to fly to Spain straight after to race to test his Formula Renault 3.5 car at Motorland Aragon for Pons.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, Merhi defended his decision to race in both series this year, believing it to be important that he can race in a championship where he can compete at the front of the field.

“Half and half,” Merhi said when asked which championship was more important for him in 2015.

“It is important to win a world title such as Formula Renault 3.5. It’s good to get experience in Formula 1, but also combine it with a championship where you have rivalries.”

Merhi is known to be a on a race-by-race contract with Manor, but told Marca that he is confident he will be racing in both the Chinese and Bahrain Grands Prix this month unless he hears otherwise.

“I’m not waiting for news,” Merhi said. “If you do not tell me anything, I’ll be the one to run in China and Bahrain.”

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
Leave a comment

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.”