Hinchcliffe “shocked” after being dropped by Arrow McLaren SP

by Jordan Groves

James Hinchcliffe has expressed his shock and disappointment following yesterday’s news that he would not be racing for Arrow McLaren Racing SP in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series as many, himself included, had previously thought to have been the case. The team announced yesterday that Hinchcliffe would not be racing with them next year, instead opting to go for an all-new line-up of Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew.

Hinchcliffe has raced for Arrow Schmidt Peterson in the NTT IndyCar Series for the last five seasons, having switched from Andretti Autosport to race for his former Indy Lights boss ahead of the 2015 season. In that time, James experienced highs and lows, securing three race wins and a pole position at the 2016 Indianapolis 500. On the flip side, however, Hinchcliffe was involved in a life-threatening accident in qualifying for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 which forced him to sit out the remainder of the 2015 season before returning for 2016.

Hinchcliffe’s long commitment with the team did not save him from being dropped for 2020 however. With the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing team merging with McLaren Racing for next year, it had been thought that Hinchcliffe would keep his drive; despite the team switching from Honda to Chevrolet; a complication considering the close ties between Hinchcliffe and Honda.

However, yesterday’s news confirmed what had been rumoured for the last few weeks. In what was described as a “gut-wrenching” decision by team owner Sam Schmidt, Hinchcliffe would be dropped from the team for the 2020 season, with Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew signing on to join the team full time.

Following yesterday’s announcement, Hinchcliffe broke his silence on Twitter today and published a statement where he spoke of his surprise to have found out that he would not be continuing with the team. He also spoke of the challenge ahead of him as he tries to secure a full-time deal to race in IndyCar next season, despite many of the seats having already been filled.

“It goes without saying the happenings of the last 48 hours have been difficult,” Hinchcliffe’s statement read. “We were shocked to learn we would not be in the #5 car for the 2020 season. Obviously, it’s very late in the game, but my team is working flat out to try and salvage a full 2020 IndyCar campaign.”

“The support from the Motorsports community has been overwhelming and is endlessly appreciated. We only get to do what we do because of the fans and your passion is amazing.

“Disappointment aside, I still have my health and incredible family, friends and fans supporting me, and at the end of the day, there’s not much a little maple syrup and a Leafs game can’t fix.

“We’ve been kicked down before and came back stronger. This is simply our next fight.

“Challenge accepted.”

Hinchcliffe’s loss of his race seat has been made even more difficult due to how late it has been announced. Many teams have already confirmed their full-time driver line-ups for the 2020 season, with many more line-ups set to be announced imminently.

It is understood that Hinchcliffe wishes to remain with a Honda-powered entry to continue his relationship with the Japanese manufacturer, but Honda teams such as Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing have already filled their seats.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing – both Honda-powered teams – have already expressed interest in speaking to Hinchcliffe about a potential 2020 race deal. However, both teams would likely need to expand to three-cars in order to accommodate him. Both have said that they are interested in expanding provided that the budget can be found by sponsors and partners.

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15.

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