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Vettel tops Hungary day two test as Norris, Kubica star

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Perhaps unfortunately for Sebastian Vettel, his leading the timesheets on Wednesday in the second day of the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test wasn’t the biggest story of the day.

The Formula 1 points leader, Hungary winner and Scuderia Ferrari driver ended with a best time of 1:17.124 after 40 laps of running.

He and teammate Kimi Raikkonen split duties – Raikkonen did 60 laps – in the day after Charles Leclerc led the timesheets aboard the same SF-17 chassis.

Behind Vettel it was the first of two other stars on the day who was next up. British teenager Lando Norris took like a duck to water to the McLaren Honda chassis and in 91 laps, ended second with a best time of 1:17.385.

The McLaren was well suited to the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest and Norris made sure to maximize his opportunity in his first proper day of Formula 1 running.

Probably the biggest headline generating driver of the day was Robert Kubica, the Pole back in a modern Formula 1 car for the first time since his rally accident nearly cost him not just his career, but his life in 2011.

Driving the Renault R.S.17, Kubica completed 142 laps and ended fourth with a best time of 1:18.572. The lap count was second only to Luca Ghiotto of Williams, the Italian driver having run 161 laps.

Elsewhere Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat split running at Toro Rosso, youngsters Lucas Auer and Nikita Mazepin did the same at Force India, Ghiotto ran for Williams, Nobuharo Matsushita took over at Sauber, Pierre Gasly ran for Red Bull and George Russell (Mercedes) and Santino Ferrucci (Haas) continued with their teams for a second day.

Times are below, and with this test in the books, the F1 summer break finally begins.

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.”