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First test, first points Steiner’s highlights of Haas F1’s debut season

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Guenther Steiner has picked his highlights of Haas Formula 1 Team’s debut season as being its first test in Barcelona and first points on debut in Australia.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016 after many years of planning, becoming the first American outfit on the grid in 30 years.

Haas debuted the VF-16 car at pre-season testing in Barcelona in February before making its race bow at the Australian Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean starred on debut to take sixth for Haas in Melbourne before going one better two weeks later in Bahrain, where he finished fifth.

Ahead of the final race of the 2016 season next Sunday, team principal Steiner picked out his two favorite moments of a memorable debut year for Haas in F1.

“There are two moments that stand out: going out in Barcelona for the first time with a new team during testing and then going to our first race and scoring points,” Steiner said.

“It was like: ‘Wow, did we do this?’ We’ve had our ups and downs, and we will have more of them, but there have been a few moments that all the team members will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Haas’ approach has been different to that of other teams, working closely with technical partner Ferrari in the run-up to its debut season, with Steiner putting its success down to Gene Haas’ vision.

“Thanks to Gene Haas, who had the belief in the idea that we would have to do it differently because more of the same would not work,” Steiner said.

“Gene’s wish was to find a different way. We did and it worked out. I think we surprised a lot of people and I think a lot of people admit it, and I think we are perceived now as one of the 11 F1 teams.

“Few would think that we are only in our first season, which is more than a compliment and that is what we want to be.

“We want to be respectable for our own sake and for the sake of F1. I think people look at us now and say they are part of the show.”

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.”