James Hinchcliffe will be desperately looking for a 2020 IndyCar seat after Arrow McLaren SP decided not to retain his services full-time next season.
According to RACER.com, McLaren is set to announce Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew as their two drivers for the 2020 season. The team will be taking a youth approach in McLaren’s first season as part of this new venture. These signings also give McLaren SP the last two Indy Lights champs as well as two of the most coveted young names in open-wheel racing.
O’Ward has been flirting with McLaren since April when he and Zak Brown had conversations at Long Beach. O’Ward then signed a Red Bull contract before that fizzled out quicker than Helmut Marko could buy a new pair of shoes. When O’Ward came back on the market he immediately became target #1 for McLaren and they landed their man.
With O’Ward back on the market, it looked like Oliver Askew would be the odd man out. He appeared set to join James Hinchliffe at McLaren SP in 2020. That was until Sunday night when McLaren informed Hinchcliffe his services would not be needed in 2020. Askew dazzled in Indy Lights, he impressed Ganassi during a test. Everything about this kid says he should be a big thing in American open-wheel and McLaren wanted him.
What About Hinch?
For Hinch, the writing had been on the proverbial walls at McLaren SP for months now. Team sponsor Arrow was furious he participated in ESPN’s Body Issue. Tasteful pictures of athlete’s bodies that showcase scars etc. sent the brass at Arrow over the edge. They went as far as trying to replace him for the season finale at Laguna Seca. Hinch merely took some pictures, he wasn’t helicoptering his dong, he wasn’t squeezing his nutsack to make it look like a brain. Nope, just taking pictures of the scars from his near-deadly crash at Indianapolis.
Unfortunately for Hinch, his angering of the team’s sponsor and switch to Chevy doomed his 2020 plans. We’re now late in the year and the majority of seats are taken for 2020. More specifically, the majority of Honda seats are taken.
Hinchcliffe is the face of Honda in Canada, it would benefit the manufacturer to have him in a car. However, according to RACER, his sponsors can’t foot the bill for a third car at Rahal-Letterman for next season. On top of that Dale Coyne’s seats are filled as Santino Ferrucci is expected to return. And the chances of Hinch going back to Andretti are slim to none, been there, done that. Not to mention that team has Rossi, Hunter-Reay, Herta, Andretti, and Veach full-time in 2020 and they’ll likely have a 6th at Indy.
James Hinchliffe very well might be on an Indy only program in 2020. He could likely slide into the third RLL car for Indy, maybe a second Shank car, or even a third Coyne car. However, he more than likely won’t be racing in full-time in 2020.
Maybe Hinch will go to IMSA….
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff