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Abu Dhabi in talks over F1 layout change to aid overtaking

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Formula 1 track designer Hermann Tilke has confirmed talks are ongoing regarding a possible layout change for the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to try and aid overtaking.

Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix offered little in the way of on-track action as Valtteri Bottas took a commanding victory for Mercedes ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who vented his frustration over the difficulty of following other cars and the lack of overtaking spots.

Speaking to Sky Sports following the race, track designer Tilke confirmed a layout tweak was under consideration in the hope of making overtaking more viable.

“We have an idea to change one corner. It’s a very small change but maybe it has a lot of impact for overtaking,” Tilke said.

“We are in discussions.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed there was a need to investigate what changes could be made to the Yas Marina Circuit to improve the on-track spectacle.

“It is something that we should certainly look at. It is such a wonderful setting and a fantastic background to sign off the season,” Horner told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

“If there was a couple of tweaks that could be done, that would introduce better overtaking opportunities, I am sure the commercial rights holder would be interested to do that.

“Today was not F1 at its best. We have seen more exciting races this season.”

Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver who qualified in the top 10 not to score a point in Abu Dhabi on Sunday following his retirement, which accounted for the single position gain through the race of those finishing fourth to eighth.

Fernando Alonso was the only points scorer to gain multiple places, rising from 11th to ninth after passing Williams’ Felipe Massa.

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.”