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Force India confirmed as P4 in F1 constructors’ for second year running

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Force India confirmed itself in fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship for the second year running after a strong double-points finish in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.

After enjoying its best-ever season in F1 by finishing fourth in 2016, Force India has been the class of the midfield throughout this season with drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon both scoring points on a regular basis.

The pair charged into the points once again in Mexico, with Ocon taking P5 and Perez P7 as their haul of 16 points clinched the team P4 in the constructors’ championship with two races to spare.

Both Ocon and Perez dodged incidents on a chaotic first lap to rise up the order, running third and fifth early on before losing out to Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel through the race.

“It’s a great day for the team. Fifth place in the race and securing fourth place in the championship is a fantastic achievement after a strong season,” Ocon said.

“For a while I believed the podium was possible because I was sitting in third place for so long. I made a great start and then I pushed as hard as I could in the free air. Sadly the Virtual Safety Car gave Kimi an advantage during the pit stops and he was able to overtake us.

“The final few laps of the race with [Lance] Stroll behind me were not easy. He had fresher tires and managed to catch me, so I had to give it everything to stay ahead.

“When you work so hard for a result it feels very satisfying so I look forward to celebrating tonight.”

“Despite the poor qualifying yesterday, we came back stronger today and managed to have a really good race with competitive pace,” reflected Perez after his home race.

“It’s just a shame that the Virtual Safety Car happened at the wrong moment because it allowed Stroll to jump ahead of me. Otherwise I think we could have finished in sixth.

“The main objective of the weekend was to confirm fourth place in the championship so I’m extremely happy that we have done this with two races to spare.

“It’s been another special weekend with so much support from the fans and I have to say a huge thank you to all of them for the energy they have given me.”

Force India’s result in Mexico also saw it beat its record points total of 173 from 2016, sitting on 175 with two races to go this year.

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.”