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Jean Todt: 21-race season a ‘privilege’ for those in Formula 1

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BIRMINGHAM – FIA president Jean Todt sees no problem with the 21-race calendar planned for the 2016 Formula 1 season, believing it to be a “privilege” for those working in the sport.

With the return of Germany and the addition of the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, the 2016 season is set to be the longest in the 66-year history of F1.

Concerns have been raised over the strain it will place on the paddock, given that with testing also accounted for most will be away from home for more than half of the year’s weekends.

However, Todt believes that those who lament the additional races are short-sighted and should instead be thankful to be in the position they are.

“If you do these jobs, if you consider all that is happening around the world, every morning you wake up, you should think about how lucky you are to be able to do 20 or 21 races, treating that as a privilege,” Todt said during the Watkins Lecture at Autosport International in Birmingham, England.

“I think they are privileged, and I think it’s a bad question to complain about having a privilege. That’s my personal feeling.”

Todt spent around an hour addressing an audience in Birmingham at the annual Watkins Lecture organized by the Motorsport Safety Fund, reflecting on his motorsport career and talking about the issues facing racing today.

During the lecture, Todt also responded to claims that he is not proactive enough as president by explaining his focus on actions rather than words.

“Sometime people complain that I do not communicate enough, that I don’t speak enough,” Todt said.

“I’m not interested in communicating. I’m more interested in actually a result, so I’m communicating to get a result.”

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.”