Boullier sure McLaren can make rapid progress once reliability woes are resolved

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier remains confident that the team can make significant strides forward once the reliability issues with the Honda power unit are resolved.

The British team joined forces with Honda at the beginning of 2015, but the Japanese manufacturer has endured a baptism of fire in the new technical era of Formula 1.

Due to a variety of problems with the Honda power unit, McLaren has been limited to just five points from the opening nine races of the season.

Jenson Button picked up four points for eighth place at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, whilst Fernando Alonso squeezed into the top ten at Silverstone to score his first point of the season.

However, with nine retirements in the first nine races, the team is struggling to maintain the optimism that arrived with Honda at the beginning of the season.

Speaking to the official Formula 1 website, Boullier made clear that McLaren is not looking to have any stern words with Honda as the team itself is also failing to meet its own high expectations.

“We are not ready,” Boullier said. “We are not doing a good enough job right now – but we know that we have a lot of potential in our car.

“Just give us time. Once we’ve solved some of the reliability issues we will make absolutely significant steps forward.”

Boullier admitted that is was difficult to put a figure on how far behind schedule the McLaren-Honda project was, but set a clear target for what the team is hoping to achieve before the end of the season.

“If you tell me tomorrow that we can run full downforce then we will be seconds faster,” Boullier said. “We will feel competitive if we can be in Q3 all the time and fighting for top six.

“That would be a major achievement even if it doesn’t sound very exciting, as we are here to win. We still target being competitive by the end of the season.”

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.”