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Wolff: Being Hamilton’s teammate ‘a tough challenge’ for Rosberg

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Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff says that being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate is a “tough challenge” for Nico Rosberg, but believes the German driver can turn around the points deficit to win the 2016 drivers’ championship.

Rosberg and Hamilton have been teammates since the beginning of 2013, enjoying a fierce rivalry during their battle for the world championship over the past three seasons.

Rosberg surged into a 43-point lead at the beginning of the 2016 season, only for Hamilton to chip away at his advantage before moving ahead in Hungary. Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 19 points with nine rounds remaining.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Wolff spoke about the rivalry between his drivers, both of whom have enjoyed varying successes through their careers.

Both won the GP2 title (Rosberg in 2005, Hamilton in 2006), but Rosberg did not win his first grand prix until his seventh season in F1. Hamilton has won a race in every season he has competed in.

Although Wolff does not think that this lack of victories has a mental impact on Rosberg in the battle against Hamilton, he conceded that being a teammate with the Briton is a challenge.

“No I don’t think it does something mentally. If you end up in Formula One and win races, you are mentally very strong,” Hamilton said.

“Nico’s circumstances were completely different to those of Lewis who immediately started his F1 career in a winning team with McLaren. Probably if he wouldn’t have won back then, that would have meant something.

“Right now Nico is paired with Lewis who is probably the best driver in F1 at the moment, and yes, that is a tough challenge.

“That is a benchmark – and he accepts that.”

When asked if Rosberg is still able to win a maiden F1 drivers’ championship in 2016, Wolff said: “We are half way through the 2016 season and only 19 points separate both.

“That’s less than one race win, and Nico is superb in qualifying. So both are on the same level.”

Hamilton is currently spending his summer break at the annual Crop Over festival in Barbados, chronicling his adventures on Snapchat.

Hamilton is one of the most present F1 drivers in mainstream media, gracing red carpets over the world and enjoying a celebrity status alongside his racing commitments.

Questions have been asked in the past regarding Hamilton’s focus, but Wolff said that so long as he continues to deliver on-track, Mercedes won’t interfere.

“As long as he functions as a race driver on the weekend and delivers results, we don’t interfere in the private life of the drivers,” Wolff said.

“Everybody is allowed to have friends in the social environment he chooses. This goes for both the drivers – and each member of the team.

“And so far over the last three years our results show that this has worked out well. Is it a recipe for future success? I don’t know!”

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.”