Vettel becomes patron of new German F4 championship

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Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has become the patron of the ADAC Formula 4 series in Germany in a bid to help junior motorsport in his home country.

A range of Formula 4 championships have been set up across Europe in the past year as part of the FIA’s initiative to simplify the route to F1 and create a more cohesive ‘ladder’ for junior racers.

Vettel raced under the ADAC (German Automobile Club) banner in Formula BMW back in 2002 and 2003. In his second season, he won the title with 18 wins from 20 races.

“I remember the early years of my career in single-seater racing well, and have a lot to thank the ADAC for,” Vettel said. “It was a fantastic time for me, but also very important in my development as a racing driver.

“That’s why I’m pleased to make a contribution, along with the ADAC, to increasing the attraction of Formula 4.

“I’ll be following the championship with great interest; these guys are going to be racing at a high level, and I’m sure that I’ll be seeing some of them eventually in Formula 1.”

F4 is intended to be a first rung on the single seater ladder following go karting for drivers, and the German championship boasts a bumper grid heading into its inaugural race weekend at Oschersleben on April 25 and 26.

Two drivers of particular note are Van Amersfoot Racing teammates Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time F1 champion Michael, and Harrison Newey, son of car designer Adrian.

“With Sebastian Vettel, we have gained a successful Formula 1 driver as a patron to the new ADAC Formula 4 series, someone who gained first-hand experience of the ADAC’s youth development programme at the beginning of his career,” ADAC Sports president Hermann Tomczyk said.

“Sebastian has been part of the ADAC family since the start of his career in formula racing. It’s great that he is now returning to his roots as four time Formula 1 champion and is so committed to developing young talent.”

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.”