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Hamilton can match Fangio and win 3rd straight Italian GP

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MONZA, Italy (AP) Lewis Hamilton reversed positions with Nico Rosberg and led the second practice for the Italian Grand Prix on Friday.

Second to his Mercedes teammate in the morning session, Hamilton surged ahead in the afternoon amid hot and sticky conditions with a track temperature of 42 degrees (108 F).

Hamilton edged Rosberg by 0.193 seconds.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen placed third and fourth, respectively, and also flip-flopped spots from the morning.

With Max Verstappen placing fifth in the more important afternoon session, the Red Bull driver was shaping up another clash with the two Ferrari cars after their tangle in Belgium last weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo was next in the other Red Bull, and Fernando Alonso overcame technical problems in gis McLaren Honda to place seventh.

Featuring long straights and sweeping curves, Monza features the fastest speeds in Formula One. On the main straight, speeds topped out at 355 kph (220 mph).

Hamilton is aiming for his fourth victory overall in Monza, which would draw him level with Nelson Piquet for second on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher’s record five wins.

Hamilton also a chance to equal Juan Manuel Fangio three consecutive wins at Monza in 1953, `54 and `55.

Last year, Hamilton led each practice, took pole position, and led the race from start to finish.

Rosberg won the Belgian GP last weekend to cut Hamilton’s championship lead to nine points. He’s still seeking his first victory at the track outside Milan, which has hosted more F1 racing than any other circuit.

Hamilton is aiming for his 50th career win on Sunday.

In the morning, Verstappen, Jenson Button, and Sergio Perez tested out a protective halo device designed to reduce the risk of head injuries, following the deaths of F1 driver Jules Bianchi and British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson last year. The halos could be introduced for races in 2018.

 

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.”