Perez elated with second podium in three races for Force India

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Sergio Perez made no secret of his delight after scoring his second podium finish in the last three races in Sunday’s European Grand Prix.

Perez qualified second on Saturday at the Baku City Circuit, but was forced to drop back to seventh on the grid after a crash in FP3 left him in need of a new gearbox.

The pace of the Force India car was enough to let Perez fight back, passing Kimi Raikkonen to take the final podium position on the final lap, despite not needing to overtake due to the Finn’s time penalty.

“I felt like I knew yesterday when I put the car in the wall in P3, there was a big chance for us to score a big result to score a massive result,” Perez said on the podium.

“I was frustrated with myself. Then going into qualifying, my boys did an amazing job to fix the car, to put everything together.

“Then I had to do a job, I had to get on with the job. We had a great qualifying but still we were starting P7 today. We had to make our way through.

“Very good start, very good first lap, very nice overtaking at Turn 2 for [Felipe] Massa and [Daniil] Kvyat. Then fighting with Kimi all the way to the end.

“I knew that he had a five second penalty, but it was still nice to get him on the last lap.

“It was very nice. Although I knew that the podium was secure, when I saw the opportunity and it was safe enough to do it, I went for it.”

The result marks the first time that Force India has scored multiple podiums in one season, and is also the fifth in the team’s history – four of which are courtesy of Perez.

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.”