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Ecclestone would have tried to stop Alonso entering Indy 500

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Ex-Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone says he would have tried to persuade McLaren not to let Fernando Alonso enter the 101st Indianapolis 500 had he still been in charge of the sport.

Ecclestone’s 40-year reign at the helm of F1 came to an end in January following Liberty Media’s acquisition of the sport, with American executive Chase Carey taking over as CEO and chairman.

Ecclestone was given the honorary role of ‘chairman emeritus’, and made his first appearance in the F1 paddock since the takeover in Bahrain on Friday.

The headline news for the Sakhir race weekend was Alonso’s shock entry to the Indy 500, announced by McLaren on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in the paddock, Ecclestone said he thought the decision was good for Alonso, but admitted that he would have tried to stop it from happening while the Spaniard still raced in F1 if he was still in charge.

“I think it’s probably good for him. I think if I could have persuaded McLaren not to go, I would have done it,” Ecclestone said, as quoted by crash.net.

“I would have said wait until your contract finishes and then you can do what you like but you are in the middle of Formula 1 and you are a Formula 1 driver.

“But I don’t like to see him at the back of the grid anyway.”

Alonso’s entry to the ‘500 acted as evidence of the change in mindset at McLaren in the past six months, with the deal being unimaginable under the team’ former boss, Ron Dennis, who left his role last November.

Alonso was asked on Thursday if the deal had been blessed by Liberty and whether it would have been possible with Ecclestone in charge of F1, but the two-time F1 champion said it was a team decision.

“I don’t think they have a key role in all these decisions, it’s more a team decision,” Alonso said.

“But I think they are also more open than in the past and we can see also all the things we are allowed to do here, a more relaxed environment.

“So it’s a more relaxed environment for Formula 1.”

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.”