Bottas: Williams far closer to Ferrari in Spain

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Valtteri Bottas believes that Williams has made a big step towards Ferrari in the battle to be second-best on the Formula 1 grid after splitting its cars once again in yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Bottas executed a two-stop strategy well to finish fourth ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in the race on Sunday, edging out the Finn by just seven-tenths of a second at the checkered flag.

For the second race in a row, Bottas managed to split the Ferrari drivers, and is confident that Williams has made up some ground on the Italian team.

“It was a really positive race overall because we are much closer to Ferrari than any other race so far,” Bottas said. “The updates we brought here were small but it seems like we are definitely doing the right things.

“We are not too far away. The gap to Sebastian [Vettel] in the end of the race was smaller than any other race so far this season.

“We have closed the gap here a little bit but we still need more updates if we really want to fight with them for race pace. They are on the way and we just need to make sure we are improving more than them.”

Teammate Felipe Massa was unable to fight with the Ferrari drivers thanks to a three-stop strategy, but the Brazilian took courage from Bottas’ result.

“It was a good race for the team, scoring 20 points, not losing too much to Ferrari, but also getting a lot more than Red Bull which is really important and positive for our championship position,” Massa said. “I managed to overtake cars on the first lap and then fought hard with Kimi for a long time, which was hard on the tires.

“Because of the extra degradation a three-stop race was better for me today, but it meant the others were too far ahead. We finished with one car in front of a Ferrari so we have shown that we can be competitive with them and we can now look forward to Monaco which will be a very different test for the car.”

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.”