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Hamilton hails “real team player” Rosberg after Mercedes title win

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Lewis Hamilton praised teammate and Formula 1 championship rival Nico Rosberg for being a “real team player” as the Mercedes drivers celebrated the team’s constructors’ championship victory earlier this week.

Mercedes clinched its second consecutive world title last Sunday in Russia with four races remaining after Hamilton claimed his ninth victory of the 2015 season.

Retirement for Rosberg saw the German slip to third in the drivers’ standings, leaving him 73 points behind Hamilton with just 100 still on offer.

Speaking upon his return to the Mercedes base in Brackley, England, Hamilton paid tribute to the team following the constructors’ title win, expressing his pride in what it had achieved.

“When I joined the team back in 2013, coming to a new place and a new environment was really daunting and I didn’t know how it was going to play out,” Hamilton said.

“But I feel very much part of the family. When I heard we’d won the title I think I was yelling louder than anyone. Seeing how much effort goes into getting us to the front of the grid and having the success we’ve enjoyed together makes me so proud of each and every person involved.

“While we will all be getting straight back into the hard work, I hope everyone gets a chance to just take a step back for a moment and realise what we’ve achieved together.

“I know everyone at the factories will keep pushing to keep us at the front and myself and Nico will definitely be doing the same.”

Hamilton and Rosberg have enjoyed a turbulent spell as teammates amid Mercedes success, with the two coming to blows on track during last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

With relations being far cooler in 2015, Hamilton praised Rosberg for being a team player and tipped the German to bounce back in the coming years.

“I just want to mention too what a great teammate Nico is,” Hamilton said. “He’s had a much tougher season so far than I have but has been a real team player throughout.

“I know he’ll be fighting back through the many years to come in which we’ll no doubt be competing hard against each other.”

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.”