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Ricciardo content with P5 at Monza, sets sights on Singapore podium

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Daniel Ricciardo believes that fifth place was “realistically” the best result Red Bull could hope for in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix as it held onto second place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship.

Ricciardo and Red Bull qualified sixth on Saturday at Monza, the high-speed nature of the circuit playing against the strengths of the RB12 car.

Ricciardo enjoyed a race-long battle with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, making a late pass for fifth to follow the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers home.

“Yeah absolutely, realistically yes,” Ricciardo said when asked by NBCSN if P5 was the most he could have hoped for.

“We could have hoped for some incidents. But Mercedes was on another level and Ferrari had more all weekend.

“We didn’t get our hopes up. Fifth was good. We put a nice move on Valtteri. I told you before the wasp ambushed me that I’d get Valtteri and I did.”

Ricciardo put his advantage over Bottas down to better tire management, the Williams driving chewing through his tires during the middle stint.

“He was quick on same tire, I think they had more than us on raw pace. But our tire deg was a bit better,” Ricciardo said.

“We held on a few more laps. We stayed out longer every stint so we could put on the super-soft at the end. In the end that’s what we did. Thanks to the team for that strategy and pull off that move.”

Ricciardo has high hopes for the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, with the tight and twisty nature of the track better suiting the Red Bull car.

“I don’t want to go in there saying I’m gonna win, but we have to aim for a podium,” Ricciardo said.

“It was a dud for Merc last year. Unfortunately I’m sure they’ll be back on form. But I like the track, I like the challenge. It’s hot, humid, physical and I look forward to going there and having some fun.”

In the second Red Bull, Max Verstappen dropped from P7 on the grid on the first lap before fighting his way back into the top 10, eventually finishing the race seventh.

“Yeah I dropped the clutch then got into anti-stall. We have to look into what happened,” Verstappen told NBCSN, reflecting on his start.

“From there, it was a little bit of a difficult situation after Lap 1. We had good pace, overtook some people and that was a positive.

“I hope we can challenge for victory [in Singapore]. This wasn’t too bad. Here it’s very power dependent.”

Red Bull’s points haul ensured it retained second place in the constructors’ championship heading to Singapore, leading Ferrari by 11 points.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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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.”