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F1: Lewis Hamilton wins sixth Chinese GP; teammate Valtteri Bottas second

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SHANGHAI (AP) Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes won Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, beating teammate and pole sitter Valtteri Bottas with a quicker start from his No. 2 spot on the grid. It was his sixth victory in the Shanghai race.

Hamilton, the five-time and defending champion, led all 56 laps after a quick start for his 75th career victory. It also moved him into the lead in the overall standings after three races.

The next is in two weeks in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari was third ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari.

“The start is really what made the difference,” Hamilton said. “And after that it was kind of history.”

Mercedes has won the first three races – two for Hamilton and one for Bottas – despite some hints this season that Ferrari had more speed.

“You can see it is still very close between us all,” Hamilton said. “We have no idea how the next race is going to turn out.”

Bottas acknowledged he was done in by his slow start, with Hamilton racing ahead out of the first turn and then running out front the rest of the way.

`I think I lost it in the start, honestly,” Bottas said. “It’s a shame about the start. It’s small details, but it’s early days in the season. But we’ve done three perfect weekends so far.”

The 21-year-old Leclerc of Monaco was clearly upset early in the race when his Ferrari team ordered him to let Vettel pass. Vettel was in fourth at the time and Leclerc was third.

“Let Sebastian by. Let Sebastian by,” the team radio told Leclerc. He replied, clearly irritated: “But I’m pulling away” as he backed off and watched Vettel pass.

Ferrari team head Mattia Binotto told reporters earlier in the week that preference would be given to the four-time champion Vettel over Leclerc, at least early in the season.

“If there is any 50-50 situation where we need to take a decision, the advantage would have been given to Sebastian, simply because Sebastian has got most of the experience,” Binotto said.

Despite benefiting from team orders, Vettel was not thrilled with his finishing position.

“I’m happy to be on the podium,” he said. “It’s tough. We tried to stick with them. But we just couldn’t. They were too quick right from the start.”

Hamilton has 68 points after three races followed by Bottas (62), Verstappen (39), Vettel (37) and Leclerc (36).

The race was billed as the 1,000th in Formula One history dating from the first race in 1950 at the Silverstone circuit in England. That was won on May 13 by Guiseppe Farina in an Alfa Romeo.

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.”