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Force India reaches new heights, securing P4 in F1 constructors’ championship

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Force India reached new heights on Sunday in Abu Dhabi as it clinched fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship ahead of the rival Williams team.

Force India started life at the back of the grid in 2008, following the team’s past history as Jordan, Midland (MF1) and Spyker, but has since become one of F1’s most respected teams as it leads the fight against better-funded manufacturer operations.

The team has battled with Williams for P4 in the teams’ standings all year long, but finally wrapped up the position in Abu Dhabi with another double-points score.

Fourth was confirmed mid-race in Abu Dhabi when Williams’ Valtteri Bottas retired from the race, as the British team could not score enough points to bridge the gap with just one car.

Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez did not relent, though, bringing their cars home in P7 and P8 to cap off a memorable season for Force India.

Fourth in the constructors’ championship beats its previous best finish from 2015, when it ended the year fifth in the standings. The team ended the season 35 points clear of Williams.

“To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors’ championship feels fantastic,” deputy team boss Bob Fernley said after the race.

“It has been a tremendous year for us and it’s important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track.

“All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history. Both drivers did a super job today, as they have done all year long.”

Hulkenberg’s appearance in Abu Dhabi was his last for Force India ahead of his move to Renault for the 2017 season.

“It’s great to end my time at Force India with a strong result and help the team finish fourth in the championship. Everybody deserves congratulations and big credit for the amazing job this year,” Hulkenberg said.

“I leave this team with lots of happy memories and Force India will always be a part of my life. I’ve learned a huge amount here and they have made me a better racing driver.

“We’ve grown up together and I’m proud of what we have achieved.”

Perez will remain at Force India for 2017, leading its charge into the new era of F1 technical regulations alongside Esteban Ocon, who took part in his final race for Manor in Abu Dhabi ahead of his move up the grid.

“It was great to finish the season with some points and to end an incredible year with a good result,” Perez said.

“Now that the season is over, I will go back to Mexico and enjoy some rest. It’s been a long and intense year and I am looking forward to some downtime with friends and family.

“They’re going to be happy holidays, thinking about what we have achieved this year. I’ll chill out a bit and then it’s back to work for 2017!”

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.”