No repeat of 2014 front-row lock-out in Austria for Williams as Massa and Bottas struggle in Q3

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Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas made no secret of their disappointment after qualifying fourth and sixth respectively for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday.

The two drivers locked out the front row of the grid at last year’s race in Austria, providing one of the biggest upsets of the 2014 season by denying Mercedes pole position.

Although Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both spun off on their final qualifying laps, the Williams drivers were unable to capitalize on this, and were in fact hindered by the yellow flags that were shown as a result.

“My best lap could have been quicker,” Massa admitted after qualifying. “I made a mistake and also the tires would have been quicker for our final attempt, plus we would have had less fuel.

“That’s not to say we would have been higher than P4 though, and these things happen in qualifying. The conditions were good, so we hope it stays like that for the race tomorrow. Our long run pace looks strong and that could be key.”

Bottas was unable to better his lap time with his final run due to the yellow flags shown for Hamilton and Rosberg, and the Finn is confident that he would have qualified higher up the order.

“Sixth isn’t totally representative of the pace of the car considering there is only one Ferrari in front,” Bottas said. “We suffered a lot with the yellow flags and so I am a little disappointed with where we will start from tomorrow.

“Saying that though, we have a very quick car in race trim and so can still have a good fight for the positions ahead.”

The Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

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.”