Despite grid penalty likely looming, Ricciardo has nowhere to go but up in Austria

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Daniel Ricciardo entered Austria a year ago on the strength of an emotional, popular first Grand Prix victory in Montreal a fortnight earlier.

This year, the Australian has had to reset expectations heading into Red Bull’s home race at the Red Bull Ring, but he is doing better than he was at Canada, he told NBCSN’s Will Buxton on Thursday.

“[I was] a little bit emotional. But obviously I’ve reset since then,” Ricciardo told NBCSN. “I’m not gonna hope or expect a massive weekend for us. This is not a strong suit for us. But I just have to make sure to get the best out of it and do better than Canada.”

Ricciardo is facing a potential grid penalty for a change of power units, and while no decision is official yet, it seems likely they will opt to take the penalty.

“Yeah at least we’ll have some cars to overtake,” he told NBCSN. “I don’t think we’ll be alone. We’ll charge up the front, and hopefully have something to smile about.”

He added to that bit during the Thursday press conference.

“It’s likely. We’re definitely looking into it,” he said. “I think we’ll have a decision probably by this evening as to what we’ll do this weekend. It’s likely we’ll take a penalty here. If it’s not here it’s in the next few. We have to see as well what chance we have coming up in Silverstone and Budapest. Wouldn’t be a surprise if we see it here but probably a few hours away from a decision.”

Ricciardo reflected further on the change in vibe 12 months later within himself, and within the team.

“I think that now it’s… yeah, we’re in a different position this year. Obviously a massive high. I think sitting at this press conference last year… I think it’s just reassess and re-evaluate our, or my, let’s say, expectations for what we’re capable of at the moment,” he said.

“And yeah, obviously I experienced some of the lows in Canada and then after that weekend I looked back on it all and said ‘OK, we have to, unfortunately for now, lower the bar and just try to not really look at the big picture of getting a podium or getting inside the top five, it’s just making sure we can just maximise our weekend for now and try and bring the team forwards as quick as possible.

“I know there’s lots of updates coming, some have worked more than others – but obviously we’re still pushing, we’re still trying. Like all things, they do take time, I think. You hope it turns around quicker but that’s the nature of the sport sometimes. Just learn to be a bit more patient I guess, and just make sure at least that I’m maximising my weekend.

“Obviously Canada wasn’t a good weekend, so just try and get back, let’s say, on the front foot this weekend and whatever position it puts us in, we’ll accept it and just try and keep the head down and more forwards.”

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.”