Castroneves is well-loved within the Meyer Shank organization, not least because he delivered the team’s first win, and in the biggest race in the world, the 2021 Indianapolis 500.
But days after winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for MSR Acura, Blomqvist tested the squad’s MSR-Honda IndyCar at Sebring and proved sensationally fast.
On the back of a desultory year in IndyCar for Castroneves, in which he finished 18th in the championship with a best result of seventh, naturally speculation grew that 2023 might be the last full-time season for the Brazilian star who turns 48 in May.
Quizzed about the subject of being replaced by a driver with whom he won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for a second straight year, Castroneves replied: «First of all, it’s too early to say. Second, I don’t want anything more than great things for this team.
“This team is incredible. They continue to grow… they already stamped that they’re not just a small team. They stamped that they’re an incredible team, that things amazing are about to happen in the future.
“Tom, come on, the kid is a superstar. He’s really quick. I feel that he’s doing an amazing job. Last year he did a great job; this year he continued doing it. Let’s see. Everything happens and falls natural. But as of right now, it’s too early in the season to predict and think what’s going to happen.
“Our goal is to have a phenomenal result with MSR so that we can show what this team is capable [of].”
Explaining his high hopes for the IndyCar season ahead, Castroneves remarked: “The expectation is obviously always to do well, but also we understand the possibility of things not going according to the plan. It takes some time to collect some of the information that we want.
«Our alliance with Andretti Autosport also is still very strong. They also know that they need to improve. It’s not only in our organization. We still keep pushing each other so that we can have a better result like we had in the past or that Andretti had in the past.
“For us, remember, the alliance, they have their own engineers, their own resource, they translate it to us, and yeah, we’re looking forward to having a much better season, and let’s hope for the best.”
Asked again about retirement, Castroneves laughed and said: “Look, I just won Daytona 24-hour. Do you think I’m thinking about retiring right now?! There isn’t a thought of that. Look… it has to feel natural. I can’t force myself. I can’t put a number or date that I can say, ‘This is it’.
As of right now, I am enjoying very much what I’m doing. I’m about to start a great season with IndyCar, and my mind is only thinking about that. I’m just going to continue working and get that result that I really want, that I know I’m capable of and I know that the team is capable of. Whatever happens in the future remains to be seen.”
Victorious Meyer Shank Racing Acura drivers at last week’s Rolex 24 — Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Tom Blomqvist and Colin Braun.
Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images