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Nelson Piquet Jr. excited for first Formula E race in Mexico

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Defending FIA Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr. is relishing the series’ first visit to Mexico City on March 12, saying that it is right for there to be a race in a country with such steep racing heritage.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City held its first Formula 1 race in over 20 years last November, putting on what many deemed to be the best-hosted grand prix of the season.

Formula E will use part of the track for next weekend’s race, while the FIA World Endurance Championship is also poised to visit Mexico in the autumn.

“I think it’s going to be a fantastic race in Mexico City. The fans there are some of the most enthusiastic in the world,” Piquet said.

“They gave F1 an incredible reception earlier in the year and I hope they enjoy what we bring to the city with Formula E. It’s right that big races are going back to a city with such motorsport history.

“It’s a fantastic country with some of the most passionate fans in the world. There’s also so much history there that it seems right that they are attracting world class racing once again.”

Issues with the powertrain produced by NEXTEV TCR for the second Formula E season have left Piquet’s hopes of defending his title all but over even after just four races, but the Brazilian remains upbeat ahead of the rest of the year.

“This year has been difficult so far. Because the design of our car is now frozen due to Formula E rules and regulations, we’re going to have to optimize everything we can on the car to try to maximize our results,” Piquet said.

“We’re learning as much as we can about the car and working on all the different areas we can. But the worst thing we could do is say ‘we don’t have a good enough package, let’s sit still, cross our arms and do nothing’.

“This is a development battle and we have to keep optimizing every area we can. We were undoubtedly the best at saving energy in season one.

“It’s harder to do that this season because our car is much heavier, but we’re going to be running some truly aggressive strategies to get the best results we can.”

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.”