Alonso confident McLaren can score points in Barcelona

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MONTMELO – Fernando Alonso is confident that McLaren can score its first points of the 2015 Formula 1 season in tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix despite qualifying outside of the top ten.

Following its worst ever start to an F1 season, McLaren entered this weekend’s race in Barcelona full of hope thanks to a number of upgrades for the Honda-powered MP4-30 car.

Although the team did claim a minor success by getting both of its cars through to Q2 for the first time in this season on Saturday, Alonso was forced to settle for 13th place on the grid ahead of teammate Jenson Button in P14.

“We are learning about the car every session we do,” Alonso said. “For me, the third or fourth grand prix of the year, without winter testing, there is more to come in the next races.

“We are unlocking some of the potential of the car here and there, the power unit, the brake performance, the aerodynamics. We keep updating the car, there is still more to come.”

The top ten cars appeared to be out of reach for the rest of the field during qualifying, resulting in a gap of half a second between Daniil Kvyat in P10 and Romain Grosjean in P11 in Q2.

However, Alonso remains confident that McLaren can pick up its first points of the year at the Spanish Grand Prix, but he still has bigger prizes in his sights for the rest of the season.

“I am confident we can take points tomorrow,” Alonso said. “It doesn’t change too much, to finish ninth, 10th, 11th, one point, two points, it is not what we want.

“We want much bigger than that but it is true for the team motivation, to achieve results we can touch, because they are only hopes and words, but if we can start scoring points physically in the race that will be a help and that is what we want to do tomorrow.”

The Spanish Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

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.”