Bottas: Ferrari speculation unfair on all involved

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Valtteri Bottas has hit out at speculation linking him with a move to Ferrari for the 2016 Formula 1 season after the Italian team confirmed on Wednesday that it would be retaining Kimi Raikkonen.

Bottas had been linked with a move from Williams to Ferrari for next season as Raikkonen’s replacement, with reports in Italy suggesting that a fee of $13m had been agreed between the two teams.

However, this part of silly season was laid to rest earlier this week when Ferrari announced that it had exercised its option on Raikkonen’s contract and would be retaining the Finn for 2016.

Speaking to reporters in Belgium ahead of this weekend’s race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Bottas said that the speculation about his future had not been fair on him, Williams, Ferrari or Raikkonen.

“It’s been unnecessary because most of it has not been true,” Bottas said.

“It doesn’t do any good to mine and the team’s relationship. It’s not fair for us to have those kind of rumors, and it’s not fair to Kimi and Ferrari.

“At some point people wrote I had [signed] a pre-contract, which is not at all true.

“Of course, you need to look around at what’s available, but now they have made a decision, it’s very clear for everyone what the situation is. It doesn’t change anything.”

Bottas is yet to be confirmed by Williams for the 2016 season, and although the team looks set to activate its own option in the Finn’s contract, he said that talks were still ongoing.

“For next year we’re still in discussions, so there’s no confirmation about that,” Bottas said.

“I just want to be in a little bit quicker car, but I think with Williams we can do it next year if I stay here.”

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.”