Kimi Raikkonen quickest in first practice for Bahrain GP

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Kimi Raikkonen has finished fastest in the first free practice session ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after posting the quickest time in a rather mixed-up FP1 on Friday afternoon.

The Ferrari driver recorded a fastest lap of 1:37.827 to finish ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas as the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton finished outside of the top ten.

With the rest of the race weekend being run later in the day under floodlights, the conditions in FP1 are far from representative of what the drivers can expect to face during qualifying and the race later in the weekend.

Most of the drivers focused on their long run pace at the beginning of the session before saving their tires and posting a fastest time in the final few minutes of FP1, when the track was at its coolest and therefore most representative.

P1 was shared around by many drivers as the track continued to evolve, with Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen all topping the timesheets at some point during the session.

In the final ten minutes of FP1, Raikkonen and Vettel ventured out to post fast lap times, with the Finn edging out his teammate by two-tenths of a second at the top of the timesheets.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton opted not to post a fast time in the final part of the session, leaving themselves down in 15th and 16th place respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen continued Toro Rosso’s good form in fourth and sixth place, whilst Daniel Ricciardo split the rookies in P5.

Fernando Alonso finished the session in P7 for McLaren, suggesting that the team has made a step forwards since China, but teammate Jenson Button saw his session come to an end after just three minutes thanks to a spin at the first corner. Felipe Nasr, Daniil Kvyat and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten behind Alonso.

Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 11am ET today. For full broadcasting details for the Bahrain Grand Prix, click here.

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.”