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Pastor Maldonado’s cousin, Manuel, to race in British F3

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Pastor Maldonado’s young cousin, Manuel Maldonado, has announced that he will race in the British Formula 3 championship this year with Fortec Motorsports.

Maldonado Sr. raced in F1 between 2011 and 2016, famously winning the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with Williams, but was better known for his on-track aggression and numerous penalties for clashes.

Looking to follow in his cousin’s footsteps – reaching F1, that is, not getting an unwanted reputation – 17-year-old Manuel Maldonado raced in the Italian F4 series last year, scoring a best finish of P12 at Adria.

Maldonado Jr. will now move up to the British BRDC F3 series for 2017, as confirmed on Friday.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to have signed with Fortec, I have worked with them in the past and I am very happy to be here,” Maldonado said.

“I know that we can develop well together. Now we keep preparing hard for the upcoming season and it’s an honour for me to represent my country Venezuela in a British championship.”

“We are very pleased to welcome Manuel to the team for the season ahead, and also to have completed our line-up for 2017 BRDC British F3,” added Fortec manager Russ Dixon.

“Manuel is a talented young driver and we are looking forward to helping him progress throughout the year.”

Pastor Maldonado has been without a race seat since leaving Lotus after the 2015 season, despite angling to move into IndyCar last year with the now-defunct KV Racing operation.

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.”