D’Ambrosio: London ePrix circuit to pose “a big challenge”

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Jerome d’Ambrosio has delivered his first thoughts on the circuit that will be used for the FIA Formula E season finale in London in two weeks’ time, saying that it will pose “a big challenge” to drivers.

The inaugural season of the series will end in London with a double-header round. A circuit in the grounds of Battersea Park in the heart of the city is being constructed for the event.

D’Ambrosio, winner of the Berlin ePrix last month, visited the venue on Thursday as part of a media day previewing the races on June 27 and 28.

“I don’t think I’ve ever raced anywhere quite as pretty as this, with all the trees and flowers next to the track,” d’Ambrosio said.

“I think we’ll need to use our clear visors because of the shade caused by the trees. And I hope I’m not in the first qualifying group as I think there are going to be a lot of leaves on the track at that stage too.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for sure. We will run the car higher than usual to stop the floor of the car touching the road and to make sure that when we hit the brakes all four wheels are on the ground. I think there could be a lot of safety cars!”

Boasting 200 acres of space, Battersea Park was opened back in 1858 by Queen Victoria and is one of the few venues on the Formula E calendar that does not incorporate public roads, limiting disruption in London.

“We looked at many venues for a London race and Battersea provided the best solution,” series CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“It’s in the heart of the city, it has great transport links and because it takes place inside of the park, we don’t have to shut any roads.”

Formula E heads to its London finale with four drivers in the mathematical running for the title, but the real battle appears to lie between first-placed Nelson Piquet Jr (128 points) and Lucas di Grassi (111).

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.”