WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the Belgian Grand Prix on Live Extra from 4am ET

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Formula 1 officially returns on Friday morning as FP1 for the Belgian Grand Prix marks the first on-track action following the summer break.

The drivers and teams will be keen to quickly get back into the swing of the race weekend routine at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, with their first opportunity coming in the first free practice session.

Lewis Hamilton arrives in Belgium as the championship leader, enjoying a 21 point advantage over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the drivers’ championship.

However, following a nightmare race in Hungary four weeks ago, Hamilton knows that he cannot afford to become complacent or ease off in a title battle that is bound to rumble on until the end of the season.

Hamilton will be keen to get in an early blow during FP1 on Friday morning at Spa and assert his dominance from the outset.

You can watch FP1 for the Belgian Grand Prix live on Live Extra from 4am ET on Friday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Arriving in Belgium, one of the biggest talking points is whether or not Ferrari can mount a serious charge for the championship in 2015 and potentially dethrone Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Hungary drew the German to within 42 points of Hamilton at the top of the championship, and prompted the Briton to admit yesterday that Mercedes could not afford to arrive at any race thinking that it is superior to the other teams.

That said, Vettel still requires an impressive run of form and a semi-collapse from Hamilton to get back in the title hunt. It will be interesting to see how Ferrari fares this weekend at its 900th grand prix, particularly with Kimi Raikkonen now signed up for 2016.

You can watch FP1 for the Belgian Grand Prix live on Live Extra from 4am ET on Friday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

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.”