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Antonio Giovinazzi to focus on Ferrari F1 reserve role in 2017

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Antonio Giovinazzi has confirmed that he will not commit to a full race program in 2017, instead preferring to focus on his reserve driver duties with Ferrari in Formula 1.

Giovinazzi finished second in his debut GP2 season last year, losing out in the title race to Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly at the last round of the season.

The Italian’s efforts led to him joining Ferrari as its reserve driver ahead of the 2017 season, enjoying his first F1 test in a 2015-spec car at Fiorano over the winter.

Despite testing a GP2 car at the end of last year for Arden, Giovinazzi confirmed to reporters in Barcelona this week that he had no racing plans in 2017.

“No, not really. For now I am third driver, I will do a lot in the simulator,” Giovinazzi explained.

“I will follow the race weekend in F1, and then we’ll see what happens.

“It will be more tough than all the years I did in my career, to be in the paddock will be quite different, less adrenaline.

“But it’s F1, it’s quite a difficult car, especially with all the function in the steering wheel so the simulator is also really good to learn this thing and to be ready when they want to put me in a car.”

Giovinazzi got his first taste of current-year machinery earlier this week when he tested for Sauber, stepping in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein for two days of the collective F1 running.

“[It was a] really special day, first time in an F1 official test is a big thing for me. Last year I was in GP2, and to have this opportunity is great for me,” he said.

“I just need to work really hard and of course I need to say thanks to Ferrari for giving me this opportunity and to Sauber F1 Team. So it’s really special for me to be here and important as well. To be in the car is something really important for a driver.”

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.”