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F1 2017 driver review: Brendon Hartley

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Brendon Hartley

Team: Toro Rosso
Car No.: 28
Races: 4
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P13 (USA)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Championship Position: 23rd

Brendon Hartley offered one of the most surprising stories not just in Formula 1 this year, but in wider motorsport.

Seven years after being dropped from the Red Bull junior program, Hartley was drafted in as a shock replacement at Toro Rosso for the United States Grand Prix when both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Pierre Gasly were unavailable.

Hartley placed a call out of the blue to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko when he learned Porsche would be closing its factory LMP1 program, and was given a surprise call-up for Austin, where he impressed on debut despite not having driven a single-seater for five years.

Hartley’s performance earned him a deal for the remainder of the season, only for a lack of reliability with the Renault power unit in his Toro Rosso car to leave him powerless to fight for his maiden points.

The New Zealander was not so stressed about the struggles once Toro Rosso confirmed his deal for 2018, when he will look to prove himself in F1 and add another chapter to a racing career full of twists and turns.

Perhaps most crucially for Hartley, there will be stability and consistency. 2017 was a topsy-turvy year for him, featuring a dramatic Le Mans victory and a second FIA World Endurance Championship title, and an eight-weekend run of races to close out the year – not for the faint-hearted!

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”