Verstappen: British GP result shows Red Bull is closing gap to Mercedes

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Max Verstappen reveled in his third-place finish in Sunday’s British Grand Prix, believing the result shows that Red Bull has cut the gap to Mercedes.

Verstappen qualified third at Silverstone on Saturday and managed to stick with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg through the early part of the race as the track dried following a rain shower.

Verstappen produced a stunning move around the outside of Becketts to take second place from Rosberg, but ultimately fell back into the clutches of the German after running wide at Turn 1 twice.

Verstappen was powerless to stop Rosberg from passing, leaving him to cross the line in third place and record his third podium finish in Formula 1.

“I felt like I had great pace today so once the track dried up I just tried to have a go,” Verstappen said.

“In the beginning I had a lot of spray so it was hard to see where I was going, especially in the first sector. Once I passed Nico I felt like I was closing on Lewis but then he pitted for slicks. We maybe stayed out one lap too long but in the end the race was great and the car was working really well.

“I had a great battle again with Nico afterwards but as it dried the Mercedes just had too much speed on the straights. I tried to keep up and there was no pressure from behind so I just concentrated on doing my own race.

“I had a few moments in Turn 1 which was a bit tricky so I had to be careful there but I hear a few others also struggled.

“The move on the outside at Becketts was fun, he was finding the inside so I thought let’s try the outside. It was a risky move for sure. The car had the grip and I had the feeling so it worked well. There’s a bit of run off there anyway so I had room if it went wrong.”

Verstappen believes that his pace shows how much progress Red Bull has made in recent weeks, cutting the gap to the dominant Mercedes team.

“In the end we only finished roughly eight seconds behind so I think that is really positive going forwards and shows we are closing the gap,” Verstappen said.

“The fans here were great, I couldn’t believe how loud they were and they really supported me. Understandably they were behind Lewis but they got behind me loads also which was great to see.”

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.”