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Massa continues impressive start to 2016 with P6 in China

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Felipe Massa continued his impressive start to the 2016 Formula 1 season in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix by charging to sixth place for Williams.

Massa battled his way up from P10 on the grid to run fourth in the closing stages with a number of faster cars running close behind.

Massa defended admirably to keep the recovering Lewis Hamilton back until the end of the race, although Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen were able to pass on quicker tires.

All things considered, Massa felt delighted with his display as he once again led Williams’ charge, marking his third straight intra-team victory over stablemate Valtteri Bottas in P10.

“I’m actually so happy with the race, it was really, really a good race for me, even if I didn’t finish on the podium,” Massa told NBCSN after the race.

“I can be really happy, I think I did a fantastic performance. A really good drive. I take care of the tires in more than a good way, in a perfect way, so the experience gives me a lot of good results at the end of the race today.

“I knew the only car that it was possible to keep behind me was Lewis [at the end]. We were fighting a lot, but when I saw that he couldn’t use the DRS anymore because he had a mistake in corner nine, then I knew he was not going to pass me anymore.

“I understood why he was quicker than me, I understood he was using a little bit more tires than me as well. So in the last eight or even 10 laps of the race, I knew that now we can stay here. I’m so happy with the race. Everything worked perfectly on the tires.”

Despite the result, it was clear throughout the race that Williams is no longer the third-fastest team on the grid, trailing behind Mercedes, Ferrari and now Red Bull.

Massa admitted that Red Bull was stronger in races, but said that the team would be working hard to make up the lost ground in the coming races.

“I think now we have three teams quicker than us, three teams in good shape, better than us,” Massa said.

“We can even fight a little bit closer, depending on the track, with the Red Bull in qualifying, but we know in the race they have a much stronger car.

“I would say today I finished in the best position I could, and I’m really, really looking forward that we understand why the other cars are better than us and we try to improve.

“We know it’s not easy but we will keep fighting and keep working.”

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.”