Perez confident with new engine coming at Austria

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Sergio Perez heads into Force India’s last race with its current package before car upgrades at Silverstone with one notable improvement: he’ll have a new power unit this race.

The Mexican, who has scored several points finishes this season and previously told NBCSN going into Montreal that he was surprised with the pace considering the lack of upgrades, now feels he can make an even bigger step forward in Austria this weekend.

“It’s an upgraded one and here is a good place to have a new engine,” Perez told assembled reporters in Austria. “This track is important on the engine, and hopefully it can give us a good boost and we can be in a better position with this new engine.”

Perez did quite well in Austria a year ago. He finished sixth, and set the fastest race lap.

After an 11th-place result in Montreal, where he was outperformed by teammate Nico Hulkenberg, Perez thinks the engine should pay dividends this weekend.

“Obviously a new engine would definitely have helped but I don’t think it was a big concern,” he admitted. “I expect to have a little bit of a gain with the new engine so this track is similar or even higher engine related to Montreal so it’s still a good place to have a new engine.”

As Perez outlined, getting points now before the upgrades come at Silverstone will be pivotal for Force India’s standing in the Constructor’s Championship.

“We’re going to have it for Silverstone, we will be doing some testing with some of the parts of the new spec,” Perez said.

“The main upgrade will come to Silverstone. It’s definitely very good news as it’s only one race left and hopefully we can score points this weekend then aim for a much better second half of the year with an upgraded 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.”