McLaren/LAT

Vandoorne hails McLaren’s ‘best day’ of 2017 so far at Bahrain test

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Stoffel Vandoorne was left pleased after McLaren enjoyed its “best day” so far in 2017 at the Bahrain in-season Formula 1 test.

Blighted by numerous problems with its Honda power unit, McLaren has recorded just two classified finishes so far this season and failed to score a single point, leaving the British team at the foot of the constructors’ championship.

The problems limited development driver Oliver Turvey to just 17 laps on Tuesday at the start of the test at the Bahrain International Circuit, frustrating the Briton on his first F1 test day for nearly two years.

Vandoorne enjoyed a better Wednesday, though, completing 81 laps – more than he completed in the Australia, China and Bahrain races combined – and posted the fourth-fastest time.

“Today has probably been our best day this season so far. It’s the first time that we’ve had a day without any big problems, where we could actually get on with our program,” Vandoorne said.

“I think we completed everything we wanted to do today, and we went through a lot of set-up stuff that we didn’t manage to do in Barcelona.

“It’s been a very productive day and I’m very happy that we’ve been able to do so many laps. Especially after a difficult day yesterday and a difficult weekend, it wasn’t looking great, but I’m very pleased.

“For the team, it’s not been an easy week, after a double-header and then coming to the test with so many issues. They’ve been working flat-out, and they’ve done a very good job to get the car back out on track every time.”

Vandoorne once again expressed faith in the McLaren MCL32 chassis, adding that a number of updates will be brought to the upcoming races.

“Today and all weekend I’ve actually felt very comfortable in the car. The chassis is behaving well, and we’ll bring some more new bits to the car over the next few races.

“The key is to be able to have a weekend where everything runs smoothly, which we haven’t been able to do yet. If we can do that, hopefully we can show we are making progress.

“We just need to keep working hard and wait for the moment when everything falls together.”

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.”