Hamilton completes practice clean sweep at Monza

Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton completed a clean sweep of practice sessions on Saturday morning at Monza by topping the timesheets in FP3 ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

After finishing quickest in FP1 and FP2 on Friday, Hamilton managed to lead the way once again in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms overnight left the track damp for the beginning of the session, forcing the drivers to head out on the intermediate tire early on.

Conditions did improve towards the end of FP3, allowing the drivers to head out on the dry compound tires and give some signs of their one lap pace ahead of qualifying later today.

Due to the drying track and increasing levels of grip, the fastest times came at the very end of the session, and it was Mercedes who led the way once again.

Hamilton posted a fastest lap time of 1:24.544 late on to beat Vettel by two-tenths of a second. Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished narrowly behind in third place.

Williams enjoyed a solid final practice session on Saturday morning as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Lotus also ran well thanks to the grunt of its Mercedes engines. Pastor Maldonado finished sixth overall thanks to a quick late lap, whilst teammate Romain Grosjean was P10. Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Marcus Ericsson split the Lotus drivers, filling out seventh to ninth.

It proved to be another difficult session for Red Bull as Daniel Ricciardo was forced to stop on track with a suspected gearbox problem. The Australian propped up the timesheets in 20th place whilst teammate Daniil Kvyat was also sidelined by a problem late on.

McLaren fared better than it had done on Friday, but still failed to bother the top ten. Fernando Alonso was P13 ahead of teammate Jenson Button, who was left lamenting an issue on his car that caused it to pull to the left under braking.

Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Saturday.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”