Ferrari retains Kimi Raikkonen for 2016 F1 season

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Scuderia Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will spend a sixth year with the team in Formula 1 after opting to activate the option in his contract for 2016.

Raikkonen spent three years with Ferrari between 2007 and 2009, winning the F1 drivers’ championship in his first season with the Italian team.

The Finn returned to Maranello in 2014 after spending two years with Lotus F1 Team on a two-year deal that also gave the team an option for a third.

Despite there being speculation in the Italian press that Raikkonen could be replaced by Valtteri Bottas for 2016, Ferrari has opted to retain the 2007 world champion for 2016.

“Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen,” a short statement from the team reads.

“The driver line-up next season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel.”

By retaining Raikkonen, Ferrari has sparked the dominoes that will see the driver market for the 2016 season fall into place over the coming months.

Bottas had been linked to the team despite having one year remaining on his contract with Williams, with Ferrari reportedly offering the British team a sizeable sum to secure the Finn’s services. Now, he is now set to see out his contract with the team in 2016.

Other drivers that will be affected include Nico Hulkenberg at Force India, who had been linked with a number of seats further up the field, and even Jenson Button, who is known to be at risk of losing his McLaren seat for next season.

This decision could even have far-reaching effects on Haas F1 Team when it joins the grid for 2016. Earlier this week, team principal Guenther Steiner said that he was waiting to see how the other drivers fell into place before making a call on a line-up; Raikkonen’s confirmation is likely to be the catalyst.

For Raikkonen, the announcement will also ease a great deal of pressure that had been upon his shoulders. The Finn called out reporters on speculation about his future earlier this year, but will now be able to focus on improving his on-track performances.

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.”