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Italian GP qualifying on hold after heavy rain, Grosjean crash

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Formula 1 qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix has been put on hold after heavy rain hit Monza in the lead-up to the start of the session, resulting in a crash for Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

In the area’s first rainfall since July, rain through the night and in the lead-up to the first practice session of the day saw running in FP3 be cut to just 16 minutes, with only seven drivers completing a lap.

The rain resulted in the cancellation of GP3 qualifying and a delay for the Porsche Supercup session, but officials deemed the track fine for F1 qualifying to begin at 2pm local time as planned.

A number of drivers reported low visibility heading out on-track, with Grosjean complaining that he could not see where he was going.

Moments after crossing the line, Grosjean lost control of his Haas VF-17 while applying the throttle on the main straight, spinning into the wall.

The shunt forced officials to throw a red flag, before confirming that the session would remain on hold, with the next update due at 2:30pm local time (8:30am ET).

Grosjean was left fuming after the shunt, but was able to get out of his Haas car unharmed.

UPDATES

14:30 – Qualifying will not restart until 14:45 at the earliest.

14:45 – Further information to be issued by race control at 15:00. The rain does appear to have stopped, but track conditions still not good enough yet.

14:50 – Race director Charlie Whiting has offered an update on conditions.

“It’s raining, but it’s easing off a little bit, but the weather seems to be swirling around quite a lot and we can’t get a very clear picture of what might happen,” he said.

“We’re just waiting for the water to drain off the track a little bit more because our safety car driver still feels the car is aquaplaning on the straights and we don’t want that of course.

“And then we’ll have to try and do the best we can to read the radar images to see if this is going to clear up or not. It’s very tricky at the moment because the weather is very unpredictable.”

15:00 – Another update, and another delay. More information at 15:15.

15:15 – Aaaaand the same again: more information in another 15 minutes. Race Control also confirms there will be 10 minutes warning before any restart.

15:30 – More information at 15:45. Rain growing heavier.

15:45 – More information at 16:00…

16:00 – More information at 16:15. It’s not looking hopeful.

16:15 – Another 15 minutes. Race Control is reportedly looking at making a decision either way soon about qualifying today or not soon.

16:30 – Great news! Qualifying will resume at 16:40 local time.

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.”