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F1 to consider reversing the grid to promote better races

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Formula One could force its fastest cars to start from the middle of the grid to improve racing.

The reverse-grid proposal is expected to be made by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in a meeting between series stakeholders in Geneva on Tuesday, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said on Monday.

The top qualifiers would be dropped on the grid to keep them from pulling away early, in a bid to try to make F1 more attractive to fans and television audiences. The changes could be in effect as early as 2017 if an agreement is reached.

“There’s an opportunity to do it properly and come up with a great set of regulations for 2017,” Horner said on the first day of preseason testing in Barcelona. “Tomorrow is really a great opportunity to do something fantastic for the fans, to come up with a car that is absolutely spectacular. And I think that’s what we should be aiming to do.”

Ecclestone said this week in an interview with the Daily Mail in England that F1 “is the worst it has ever been,” and he “wouldn’t spend money to take (his) family to watch a race.”

The meeting will involve teams, promoters, and FIA, motorsport’s governing body. It could be the last chance for an agreement in time for the 2017 season. Changes made before a March 1 deadline can be approved by a majority of the stakeholders, but after that a unanimous decision would be needed, making it virtually impossible, as the top teams usually prefer to keep things unchanged.

The rule changes that will be put on the negotiating table were first discussed a few months ago, Horner said.

The Red Bull boss said Ecclestone was “quite keen on” the reverse-grid proposal.

To push drivers in qualifying, points would be awarded to the top qualifiers, and the pole winner would keep the honor statistically. The rule is used in many other series, including the GP2, considered F1’s second-tier series.

Horner said double points for the final race and other chances would also likely be discussed in Geneva.

“Let’s see what happens,” he said. “(Ecclestone) wants to shake things up a bit. He is a promoter, he’s got to sell Formula One around the world, and he wants it to be the most exciting and spectacular that it can possibly be.”

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

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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.”