FIA Formula 2

Ferrari junior Leclerc takes first pole of new Formula 2 era in Bahrain

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Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc will start the first race of Formula 2’s new era from pole position after topping the timesheets in qualifying on Friday night in Bahrain.

Following Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula 1, it was confirmed that the GP2 Series – also under the same umbrella – would become F2 for 2017 and be run by the FIA.

Leclerc made the move up to F2 after winning the GP3 title last year, and had an immediate impact on the field on Friday night by storming to pole position.

Unlike many of his rivals, Leclerc opted to complete his final qualifying run midway through the session in a bid to avoid traffic or any late incidents.

Leclerc turned in a fastest lap of 1:38.907, going six-tenths clear of Prema Racing teammate Antonio Fuoco to take provisional pole ahead of his rivals’ final runs.

An incident involving Nabil Jeffri and Gustav Malja resulted in the Virtual Safety Car being issued in the final minute of the session, scuppering any late laps that could have threatened Leclerc’s time.

As a result, the Monegasque racer will start the first race of F2’s new era from pole position, heading up a one-two for defending champion team Prema with Fuoco alongside him on the front row.

McLaren youngster Nyck de Vries was able to improve late on to rise to third place, jumping clear of Norman Nato. Luca Ghiotto wound up fifth, with Honda-backed Nobuharu Matsushita in sixth.

Artem Markelov finished seventh, while title favorite Oliver Rowland ailed to P8 after a lock-up on his quick lap. Alexander Albon qualified ninth for his debut in the category, while Sergio Sette Camara rounded out the top 10.

The first race of Formula 2’s new era kicks off on Saturday at 6:10am ET. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”