Raikkonen leads Ferrari one-two in second Chinese GP practice

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Kimi Raikkonen headed up a Ferrari one-two in the second free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday afternoon in Shanghai.

After seeing Mercedes set the pace in a truncated opening practice on Friday morning, Raikkonen picked up the mantle in FP2 with a fastest lap of 1:36.896 on the super-soft tire.

His time with 30 minutes remaining in the session was enough to give him P1 come the checkered flag, edging out Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Both drivers completed fast runs on super-softs to leapfrog the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who were left to settle for third and fourth place respectively.

Rosberg bounced back from an ignition issue at the end of first practice to beat Hamilton once again, with Mercedes preferring to focus on race simulations in the latter part of the session.

Daniel Ricciardo strengthened Red Bull’s case for being the ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes and Ferrari by finishing fifth in FP2 ahead of Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez put in an impressive display for Force India, charging to seventh and ninth place respectively. Carlos Sainz Jr. split the pair in the second Toro Rosso. Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10 for Williams.

Felipe Massa bounced back from two tire failures in FP1 to finish the session 14th, but Kevin Magnussen was forced to sit out the session due to the damage sustained to his Renault in a separate incident earlier in the day.

It proved to be another difficult session for Haas as Esteban Gutierrez was sidelined by a brake fire early on. The Mexican driver was forced to miss FP1 due to an electrical issue, and was prevented from recovering the lost mileage in second practice to compound a tough day.

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix is on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3am ET on Saturday.

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.”