Engine issue costs Maldonado shot at points finish

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Pastor Maldonado was left frustrated after today’s Bahrain Grand Prix thanks to a problem with his engine that cost him a shot at a points finish.

The Lotus driver has endured a difficult start to the 2015 season, failing to finish any of the first three races despite having the pace to rank inside the top ten.

A brake issue in qualifying left Maldonado 16th on the grid, and despite receiving a time penalty for starting out of position on the grid, he was soon battling for points with Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr.

Lotus managed to get its driver ahead of the Brazilian pair thanks to a swift second pit stop, but it proved to be the high point of his race.

When entering the pits for a third time, Maldonado suffered an engine problem that forced him to stop outside his garage whilst the team tried to cool the car down.

He eventually rejoined the race, only to finish down in 15th position ahead of the Manor drivers.

“That was a frustrating race for me,” Maldonado said. “I pushed as hard as possible at the start on the medium tires whilst everyone around me was on the grippier soft compound rubber.

“Once I moved to the soft tires I was able to set the race’s then fastest lap so things looked good with our strategy.

“Unfortunately the engine anti-kill triggered when I came in to make my final pit stop which cost me a lot of time. It’s frustrating as we should have finished strongly.

“My focus is now Barcelona where I’ve delivered very strongly in the past.”

His teammate, Romain Grosjean, fared far better in the sister Lotus car, finishing seventh for the second race in a row and picking up six points for the team.

“It had been a tough weekend until now for me, so it was really great to get another strong seventh position,” Grosjean said. “Today’s race was great, especially as there was lots of overtaking. I was really hoping to catch Daniel Ricciardo but he was too quick for us today.

“It was quite difficult to manage tires, especially with the rears so I think we did a good job to make the two-stop strategy work. We only had new medium compound tires for the race, the rest were scrubbed, so it really was a great job by the team.

“It was a good recovery from Friday and Saturday’s session and I’ll happily take seventh place as my birthday gift for myself and the team.”

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.”