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F2, GP3 2018 schedules released

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Both the FIA Formula 2 and GP3 schedules for their 2018 seasons have been revealed on Monday, largely mirroring the Formula 1 calendars.

The F2 schedule expands by one weekend from 11 to 12 compared to 2017, and GP3 expands by one weekend as well from eight to nine.

Both championships are added to the weekend slate at Paul Ricard in France and Sochi in Russia. The standalone round at Jerez this season, where both Charles Leclerc (F2) and George Russell (GP3) clinched their championships, drop off.

Also notable is the lack of inclusion for a German round at Hockenheim, as that country returns to the F1 calendar next season.

Bruno Michel, CEO of both F2 and GP3, had this to offer about the respective schedules:

“I am pleased to announce that next year’s calendar will hold twelve events alongside Formula One. One of our mission statements is to prepare young drivers to the next step: F1. Having all of our race weekends take place with F1 will help our drivers to learn as many F1 tracks as possible, but also to prove their race crafts directly in front of the F1 paddock.

“The 2018 calendar includes two new venues: Le Castellet and Sochi. It features one more event compared to this year, and is a good balance between racing on F1 circuits in Europe and overseas,” he said of F2.

As for GP3, Michel said,  “I am pleased to confirm that we have expanded the 2018 calendar to include a ninth round for the new season, with all of the race weekends taking place alongside Formula One. We are delighted to race for the first time in Le Castellet and to return to Sochi once again, balancing the need to control costs and to provide a full season for our teams and drivers, and to create more entertainment for the fans.

“This campaign will bring new challenges for the teams with the addition of the new circuits, and for the drivers in mastering the DRS to our third generation GP3 car. I am convinced that there will be many opportunities for our drivers to showcase their talent in front of the F1 paddock and the fans.”

The full calendars are below.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Calendar*

Date

Venue

06-08 April

Sakhir, Bahrain

27-29 April

Baku, Azerbaijan

11-13 May

Barcelona, Spain

24-26 May

Monte Carlo, Monaco

22-24 June

Le Castellet, France

29 June – 01 July

Spielberg, Austria

06-08 July

Silverstone, Great Britain

27-29 July

Budapest, Hungary

24-26 August

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

31 August – 02 September

Monza, Italy

28-30 September

Sochi, Russia

23-25 November

Yas Marina, UAE


*Subject to final approval by the FIA WMSC

2018 GP3 Series Calendar

Date Venue
11-13 May Barcelona, Spain
22-24 June Le Castellet, France
29 June – 1 July Spielberg, Austria
6-8 July Silverstone, Great-Britain
27-29 July Budapest, Hungary
24-26 August Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
31 August – 2 September Monza, Italy
28-30 September Sochi, Russia
23-25 November Yas Marina, UAE

Penske won’t discuss if Castroneves returns to Indy in 2020

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Bruce Martin Photo
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INDIANAPOLIS – NBC Sports.com asked Indianapolis 500 winning team owner Roger Penske if three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves would return to the team in 2020?

Penske immediately brushed off the question.

“We’re not going to talk about that right now,” Penske told NBC Sports.com. “I’m just not going to talk about it. We’re going to have a meeting about it before we decide, but I’m not going to talk about that right now.

“Simon won the race and that is what I’m focused on right now.”

Simon Pagenaud, gave Penske a record-extending 18thIndy 500 win on Sunday. Penske confirmed that Pagenaud will be back with the team in 2020 after he scored his first win in Sunday’s 103rdIndianapolis 500.

Castroneves was an NTT IndyCar Series regular at Team Penske from 2000 until the 2017 season. After that, Castroneves was shifted over to the team’s Acura IMSA Sports Car program, but the three-time Indy 500 winner was given a ride at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years.

The popular driver from Brazil is trying to join AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners.

But the whispers in Gasoline Alley indicate his future with Team Penske at Indy remain uncertain.

“I’ve heard the rumors, too,” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com on pit lane after his disappointing finish in the Indy 500. “I will definitely give it a good, hard think about coming back in 2020. I want to be the rest of the season, here.”

But, will Castroneves run the Indy 500 again?

“Who knows?” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com. “Let’s see what happens.”

Castroneves’s bid for a fourth Indianapolis 500 was derailed in a pit road incident after his first pit stop when he ran into James Davison’s Chevrolet on the team’s first pit stop on Lap 30.

The front wing of Castroneves’s Chevrolet was damaged and INDYCAR officials gave him a “Drive Through” penalty for “Avoidable Contact.” Castroneves would ultimate drop three laps down but finished one lap down in 18thplace.

Castroneves explained what happened to him earlier in the race and how it affected the rest of his Indy 500.

“The accident that happened in the pits hurt us for sure,” Castroneves explained. “We had a problem with the fuel mapping, and I couldn’t go over 200 miles an hour for four or five laps. We lost 35 seconds. There was a bug in the system.

“Then, we went back out and that was it. I wasn’t able to recoup after that. I was excited. The car was very, very good entering the race.”

Castroneves spoke with second-place finisher Alexander Rossi, who was furious with the driver from Brazil earlier in the race for not moving out of the way, even though he was three laps down at the time.

The two drivers hugged, and Castroneves walked back up pit lane.

“I did what the team told me to do, and they told me to go as fast as I could,” Castroneves explained after talking to Rossi. “It’s racing and everybody is upset they didn’t win.”

Castroneves hopes his walk up pit lane is not the final time as an Indy 500 competitor.

But it could be.

“I hope I can come back next year,” Castroneves said. “I’m really upset as a competitor, but extremely happy for Team Penske and for Simon Pagenaud for winning the race.

“The good news is I go back to the Acura sports car, but I will be dreaming about coming back here again.”