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Stroll happy with Monza F1 display despite fall from front row

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Lance Stroll took plenty of positives from his run to seventh in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza despite falling down the order after becoming the youngest driver in Formula 1 history to start from the front row of the grid.

Stroll, 18, starred in a wet qualifying session on Saturday to line up alongside pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton for the start, only to lose a place at Turn 1 to Esteban Ocon.

Stroll slipped down the order as the race wore on, with Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo all getting the jump to leave the Canadian running P7 late on.

Soaking up late pressure from Williams teammate Felipe Massa, Stroll held on to secure six points and record his second-best F1 finish.

“I am very happy with the race and I think it was a good one. I really enjoyed myself,” Stroll said.

“It was a bit of a shame at the start, as we lost position to Ocon, as Hamilton had a bad start and defended, so I had to back off. We were in P3 and then both Ferraris and the Mercedes of Bottas overtook.

“I then had a big flat spot at the end of the race, so started to lose time to Ocon and then was defending from Felipe.

“All in all, the race was very positive. I finished in P7, which was what we were expecting.”

With Massa coming home eighth, Williams took 10 points away from Monza, creating some breathing space to the chasing midfield teams in the race for P5 in the constructors’ championship.

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.”