Kvyat, Verstappen follow up great Hungary results with more points in Spa (VIDEO)

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Daniil Kvyat banked his first career podium finish last month in the Hungarian Grand Prix with second place in the Red Bull RB10-Renault, salvaging something out of what’s been a tough graduation year into the top Red Bull team.

However it was his drive to fourth in today’s Belgian Grand Prix that might have even been better.

Courtesy of a strategic gamble come good from the pit wall and a series of late-race overtakes, Kvyat converted his 12th place grid position into fourth place, for his third top-five result of the season (fourth at Monaco).

In the process, he also moved ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the championship standings. The Russian now has 57 points to Ricciardo’s 51.

“It was a very interesting race and really good fun today,” Kvyat said post-race. “I had a lot of overtaking opportunities and the car performed well.

“The strategy from the team to keep me out during the virtual safety car was good and we were able to have a strong last stint. The team did a good job and we scored some solid points. We should be happy with the performance today and hopefully we can continue this form over the next few races.”

Team principal Christian Horner also hailed Kvyat’s performance.

“Dany drove a very strong race to finish fourth from his starting grid position of 12th,” Horner said. “He produced some very strong overtaking maneuvers and the strategy worked very well, so we were able to score some very useful points.”

Ricciardo made a dynamic start and got up to third by the end of the first lap, and forced Sergio Perez to pit early to cover him in what could have become a battle for the final podium position.

However he lost power going into a chicane during the race, and it cut his day short.

Down at Toro Rosso, Max Verstappen’s adopted “home race” – the Dutch driver has a heavy racing history and some family background in Belgium – ended with his third points score in the last four races.

Verstappen, the 17-year-old rookie, had only one points score in his first seven Grands Prix. He ended eighth on Sunday after starting 15th, and now has 26 points in his first season, one ahead of Perez and two clear of Nico Hulkenberg.

He almost got Kimi Raikkonen for seventh but ran wide at Les Combes.

“What an entertaining race, it was a great achievement to start from so far back and finish eighth in the end!” Verstappen said. “My pace was very strong and I enjoyed the overtaking, so we can be very happy about today’s race.

“The car felt great and we were able to keep up with Ferrari and Williams. I really enjoyed it and even if some of the overtakes were a bit risky, when you start from so far back you have to go for it if you want to move forward.

“It wasn’t an easy start to the weekend, but we managed to do a great job in the end and I would like to thank the team for the big effort and my home crowd for the support, we can all be really happy with today’s P8!”

The frustrations continued to mount for his fellow rookie teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., who failed to finish his fourth consecutive race. On this occasion, he retired after two stints to save engine mileage, but was already hamstrung from the start of the race when the car missed the start due to an electrical issue.

“We didn’t have a good start to the race because an electrical problem related to the engine on Carlos’ car meant we had to bring the car into the garage before the race had even started,” said Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost.

“We fixed the issue with the cable and he was able to re-join the race, but he was already a couple of laps behind. We decided to continue the race because in Spa you never know what can happen, and maybe a Safety Car or some rain could’ve helped us, but unfortunately this never happened, so with 11 laps to go we called him in to save some engine mileage.

“I’d like to apologize to Carlos for this, as it’s now the fourth race in a row where he can’t finish a race because of technical problems.”

Sainz has four scores in the six races he’s finished this year, but it’s been since Montreal in early June since the Spaniard has seen a checkered flag.

Penske won’t discuss if Castroneves returns to Indy in 2020

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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INDIANAPOLIS – NBC Sports.com asked Indianapolis 500 winning team owner Roger Penske if three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves would return to the team in 2020?

Penske immediately brushed off the question.

“We’re not going to talk about that right now,” Penske told NBC Sports.com. “I’m just not going to talk about it. We’re going to have a meeting about it before we decide, but I’m not going to talk about that right now.

“Simon won the race and that is what I’m focused on right now.”

Simon Pagenaud, gave Penske a record-extending 18thIndy 500 win on Sunday. Penske confirmed that Pagenaud will be back with the team in 2020 after he scored his first win in Sunday’s 103rdIndianapolis 500.

Castroneves was an NTT IndyCar Series regular at Team Penske from 2000 until the 2017 season. After that, Castroneves was shifted over to the team’s Acura IMSA Sports Car program, but the three-time Indy 500 winner was given a ride at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years.

The popular driver from Brazil is trying to join AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners.

But the whispers in Gasoline Alley indicate his future with Team Penske at Indy remain uncertain.

“I’ve heard the rumors, too,” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com on pit lane after his disappointing finish in the Indy 500. “I will definitely give it a good, hard think about coming back in 2020. I want to be the rest of the season, here.”

But, will Castroneves run the Indy 500 again?

“Who knows?” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com. “Let’s see what happens.”

Castroneves’s bid for a fourth Indianapolis 500 was derailed in a pit road incident after his first pit stop when he ran into James Davison’s Chevrolet on the team’s first pit stop on Lap 30.

The front wing of Castroneves’s Chevrolet was damaged and INDYCAR officials gave him a “Drive Through” penalty for “Avoidable Contact.” Castroneves would ultimate drop three laps down but finished one lap down in 18thplace.

Castroneves explained what happened to him earlier in the race and how it affected the rest of his Indy 500.

“The accident that happened in the pits hurt us for sure,” Castroneves explained. “We had a problem with the fuel mapping, and I couldn’t go over 200 miles an hour for four or five laps. We lost 35 seconds. There was a bug in the system.

“Then, we went back out and that was it. I wasn’t able to recoup after that. I was excited. The car was very, very good entering the race.”

Castroneves spoke with second-place finisher Alexander Rossi, who was furious with the driver from Brazil earlier in the race for not moving out of the way, even though he was three laps down at the time.

The two drivers hugged, and Castroneves walked back up pit lane.

“I did what the team told me to do, and they told me to go as fast as I could,” Castroneves explained after talking to Rossi. “It’s racing and everybody is upset they didn’t win.”

Castroneves hopes his walk up pit lane is not the final time as an Indy 500 competitor.

But it could be.

“I hope I can come back next year,” Castroneves said. “I’m really upset as a competitor, but extremely happy for Team Penske and for Simon Pagenaud for winning the race.

“The good news is I go back to the Acura sports car, but I will be dreaming about coming back here again.”