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Mercedes drivers ‘remain free to race’, team orders a ‘last resort’

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Mercedes Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg remain free to race after “positive meetings” were held with team bosses ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Hamilton and Rosberg clashed on the final lap of last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, prompting team boss Toto Wolff to suggest that team orders may be used in the future to prevent such incidents.

Hamilton said that he hoped Mercedes would not take such action, while Rosberg remained adamant that he had done nothing wrong in defending his position from his teammate.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Mercedes confirmed that meetings had been held between the drivers and team officials, in which it was decided that team orders will not be used.

However, the team said that its “rules of engagement” have been strengthened to deter Hamilton and Rosberg from clashing on-track, with team orders being considered a “last resort”.

Here is the statement in full:

”This morning at the headquarters of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Brackley, UK, positive meetings were held between Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg,” it reads.

“Our drivers were informed that they remain free to race for the world championship.

“We believe this is the essence of Formula One including between teammates. As passionate racers, we want to see them racing, and so do the fans of Formula One.

“However, this freedom comes with a duty for our drivers to respect the values of the team.

“In the past five races, there have been three incidents which have cost us over 50 points in the constructors’ championship.

“We have therefore strengthened our rules of engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between our cars.

“With these in place, we will trust our drivers to manage the situation between them on track. Their destiny is in their own hands.

“The drivers were also reminded that we may issue instructions during the race to protect against a potential loss of constructors’ points, such as we did at this year’s Monaco GP when Nico was instructed to let Lewis pass.

“If the drivers do not honour the revised rules of engagement, we may impose team orders as a solution of last resort.

“Finally, we restated our belief in Lewis and Nico as the best driver pairing in Formula One.

“Since 2013, we have won together a total of 43 races and 40 further podium finishes, plus two consecutive world championships. This record speaks for itself.”

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.”