FIA Formula 2

Artem Markelov charges to F2 season-opener win in Bahrain

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Artem Markelov became the first winner of an FIA Formula 2 race in five years by charging to victory in the season-opener at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.

Following Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula 1, a deal was struck to make its premier feeder series, GP2, an FIA championship once again for 2017.

The first pole of the new F2 era went to Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc, with the Monegasque racing enjoying a spirited early battle in the race with Norman Nato, while Russian Time’s Markelov lurked behind in third place.

Nato was the first to pit, and managed to get his tires up to temperature quickly so he could sweep around previous leader Leclerc, who came out of the pits on cold Pirellis after a later stop.

Markelov opted to extend his first stint, giving him a pace advantage in the closing stages with fresher tires that allowed him to sweep past both Leclerc and Nato, gaining multiple seconds per lap.

The result marked Markelov’s second win the the GP2/F2 category, his previous success coming in last year’s Monaco feature race.

Nato held on for second place ahead of Leclerc, who impressed on debut in the GP2/11 car following his step up from GP3.

Jordan King finished fourth ahead of Oliver Rowland, with Alexander Albon finishing sixth. Luca Ghiotto battled up to seventh in the second Russian Time entry, while Honda youngster Nobuharu Matsushita will start the sprint race from reverse grid pole after finishing eighth.

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.”