IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe out at Arrow McLaren Racing SP

James Hinchcliffe will not return to Arrow McLaren Racing SP in the 2020 IndyCar season despite various “confirmations” that he would be back.

After Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed that they would be partnering with McLaren and switching from Honda to Chevrolet engines to form Arrow McLaren Racing SP for the 2020 IndyCar season, James Hinchcliffe stated that he was looking forward to working with General Motors once again.

Hinchcliffe has served as a Honda spokesman for several years and hasn’t driven a Chevrolet-powered IndyCar since the 2013 season when he still drove for Andretti Autosport. Staying with Arrow McLaren Racing SP would upset those ties.

Additionally, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt stated on multiple occasions that Hinchcliffe was set to return to the team and that he had a contract through the 2020 season to do so. McLaren CEO Zak Brown backed this claim, as did another unnamed McLaren representative.

But the 32-year-old Canadian will not be back with the team next year.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP confirmed that they will operate as a two-car team, and they are slated to confirmed 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward and 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew as their two drivers later this week.

This leaves Hinchcliffe without a ride, but it means that he will be able to retain his ties with Honda, provided the manufacturer does not release him.

This opens up the opportunity for Hinchcliffe to do what he has been rumored to do for several months, and that is land with one of the sport’s Honda-powered teams. A third car at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing alongside Graham Rahal and Takuma has been rumored as the most likely option.

However, the funding of Honda and counterpart Honda Canada will likely not be enough to land Hinchcliffe a ride on its own.

The sport’s three other confirmed full-time Honda-powered teams for the 2020 season are Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Dale Coyne Racing. Dale Coyne Racing have also expressed interest in the 2016 Indianapolis 500 polesitter.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP already reportedly tried to replace Hinchcliffe with Askew for the 2019 season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna after Hinchcliffe took part in nude photo shoots for ESPN The Body Issue, as tensions rose within the team due to title sponsor Arrow being blindsided by his participation and angered by the use of their logos in these photographs.

Hinchcliffe, who has competed in 139 races over the course of nine seasons in IndyCar, has six career victories to his name, including three driving for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports over the course of five seasons.

He competed in 71 races for the team and recorded 10 podium finishes. His best finish in the championship standings in these five seasons was 10th place in 2018. His only pole position for the team, which is his lone career pole position, came for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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