Starting grid for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix

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If there were any doubts about Mercedes’ position at the front of the field in Formula 1 following Sebastian Vettel’s victory for Ferrari in Malaysia, then they will surely have been answered on Saturday in China as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locked out the front row of the grid for the German marque.

After finishing fastest in every single practice session in Shanghai, Hamilton proved to be the man to beat once again in qualifying as he claimed his fifth pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix with a fine lap.

However, he was fortunate not to lose out to Rosberg at the end after failing to improve his time on his second run in Q3.

The German driver came agonizingly close to his first pole position of the season, finishing just 0.042 seconds behind Hamilton for P1. Alas, the Briton was able to celebrate his third pole position of the year, continuing his 100% qualifying record in 2015.

Vettel was unable to get amongst the Mercedes drivers on the front row in China, finishing nine-tenths of a second behind Hamilton in third place. He may have given the Silver Arrows a shock last time out, but he faces a stiff challenge to hang onto their coattails in Shanghai on Sunday.

The battle for the points promises to be a close one as Williams, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Sauber jockey for position, whilst Lotus and even McLaren hold hopes of a breakthrough top-ten finish in China.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • There are no concerns about Manor’s participation in this weekend’s race as both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi qualified inside the 107% time.

STARTING GRID FOR THE 2015 CHINESE GRAND PRIX

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4. Felipe Massa Williams
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus
9. Felipe Nasr Sauber
10. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
11. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
12. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
13. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
14. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
15. Sergio Perez Force India
16. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
17. Jenson Button McLaren
18. Fernando Alonso McLaren
19. Will Stevens Manor
20. Roberto Merhi Manor

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”