© Getty Images

Vandoorne confirms McLaren test and reserve role for 2016

Leave a comment

GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne has confirmed that he will take up a test and reserve role with parent team McLaren for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Vandoorne wrapped up the GP2 championship in Russia last month, but missed out on a possible seat with McLaren in F1 after the team opted to retain veteran driver Jenson Button for 2016.

Given that GP2 champions are not permitted to return to the series, Vandoorne looked poised for a year on the sidelines much like current McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen experienced in 2015 unless he took one of the remaining seats with Manor at the back of the F1 grid.

In an interview with McLaren’s official website, Vandoorne confirmed that he would be taking up the reserve role with McLaren for 2016 in place of the outgoing Magnussen, but is also working on a deal to keep racing.

“I definitely want to race something next year, but what it will be we don’t know yet,” Vandoorne said. “There’s definitely some options though, and we’re talking about them.

“I’m going to be test and reserve driver at McLaren anyway, which is a good position to be in. Obviously I want to race something next year as well, to say sharp, to stay fit, and to stay focused, so we’ll see what comes out.

“And if you stay sharp, fit and focused, then if any opportunity arises in F1 you’re 100 percent ready to jump in.”

Vandoorne is set to test a Super Formula car ahead of a possible race seat in Japan’s leading single seater series to complement his McLaren reserve duties.

“I’ll be doing a Super Formula test in Japan soon. The Super Formula car is definitely a good car – it’s at least as quick as a GP2 car or maybe even quicker.

“As I say, as I’m McLaren’s test and reserve driver next year, but I want to keep racing alongside that, and I think Super Formula is one of the options, but it’s not decided yet whether I’m going to do it or not.”

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.”