Manor to miss next week’s F1 test in Barcelona

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MONTMELO – Manor Marussia F1 Team has confirmed that it will not be taking any part in next week’s Formula 1 test in Barcelona.

The majority of the F1 paddock is set to remain at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya until the middle of next week following today’s Spanish Grand Prix to complete some running at the first in-season test of the season.

However, a spokesperson for Manor confirmed to MotorSportsTalk on Sunday that the team would not be taking any part in the test, and instead will return back to the UK at the end of the race weekend.

Manor (then known as Marussia) came close to collapsing at the end of 2014, missing the final three races of the season and having many of its assets auctioned off. Its old factory in Banbury was bought by NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas, who plans to run his F1 operation out of there from 2016.

However, the operation was saved thanks to fresh investment, allowing it to race in 2015 and keep the grid at 20 cars.

In the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi once again propped up the order, finishing 17th and 18th respectively.

“Both drivers did a good job and we are obviously very pleased with the reliability of the cars,” team principal John Booth said. “Clearly there is some work to do, but our development programme is still in its infancy, so race finishes are key for providing the information we need.

“The next race should be a bit better and of course it is a very special venue for us, as the track where Jules [Bianchi] achieved our first two constructors’ championship points one year ago.”

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.”