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Fernando Alonso impressed by new McLaren MP4-31 aero package

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Fernando Alonso is ready and raring to go for the 2016 Formula 1 season with McLaren following the launch of its new MP4-31 car on Sunday morning.

McLaren unveiled its 2016 model online earlier today, sporting a sleek, black design and retaining many of the design concepts of last year’s car.

Alonso’s return to McLaren in 2015 proved to be a difficult one as issues with the Honda power unit limited him to just two points’ finishes across the course of the season.

However, the Spaniard is hopeful of an improved 2016 campaign, and is particularly impressed by the aero package on the MP4-31 car.

“The start of a new season is always a special feeling, characterized by a lot of anticipation for the year ahead. This year is no different: I’m excited and raring to go,” Alonso said.

“Last year the spotlight was very much on McLaren-Honda as we embarked on the first year of our renewed partnership. It was a tricky season for all of us, but we learned a hell of a lot.

“Likewise, it’s been a very productive winter for me. I’ve been training extremely hard, as usual, but also enjoying time with my family, and keeping tabs on all the hard work going on at the McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, where the McLaren guys have been doing an incredible job to get everything ready in time. The Honda boys have been working flat-out in Sakura, too.

“The aero package shows fantastic attention to detail. The whole car is beautiful in fact – it’s particularly nicely packaged from an aerodynamic point of view as I say – and I’m 100 per cent ready for the challenge ahead.”

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.”