IndyCar | Arrow McLaren SP Confirm O'Ward / Askew - Hinchcliffe Out

The newly re-branded Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team have confirmed fan favourite James Hinchcliffe won't return to the team next season, making way for new signings Pato O'Ward and reigning Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew.

Having taken the decision to partner with McLaren for a famous return to full time IndyCar racing next season, it would be fair to say that everyone expected popular Canadian racer James Hinchcliffe to spearhead the new Arrow / McLaren team for 2020... including team owner Sam Schmidt if his comments from late August this year are anything to go by...

However, in a surprise move by the American squad, Arrow McLaren SP have confirmed the 32-year-old Canadian will not be seeing out the remainder of his contract with the team, losing his drive for next season in place of two relatively inexperienced up and coming new talents.

“As we look to establish Arrow McLaren SP and re-establish McLaren in the world of IndyCar, I’m delighted to be welcoming these two young, homegrown talents to the team,” said Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director of McLaren Racing.​

“Oliver and Pato represent the new generation of IndyCar drivers. Proven winners and exciting prospects, I have no doubt that they will form an excellent pairing as we take on the 2020 season. "Both drivers were super-impressive in Indy Lights, racking up 16 wins between them over the last two seasons. We have taken time and care to make a driver selection that we believe is in the best long-term interests of Arrow McLaren SP.”
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With O'Ward apparently out of favour at Red Bull following a brief flirtation with both F2 and the Japanese Super Formula series, the impressive 2019 IndyCar rookie is understandably pleased to continue his American motorsport journey - one that led the 20-year-old Mexican to the 2018 Indy Lights title before his part season in IndyCar racing last year.

“I’ve had some great opportunities over the last year, but this is by far the greatest thing that could possibly happen for my career,” said O’Ward. “I had a taste of IndyCar earlier this year and cannot wait to represent Arrow McLaren SP in the best way possible for a full season in 2020.”
Of course a move towards what is a near all rookie pairing for next year is a risky one, especially considering the significant change in personal and structure thanks to the new link up with McLaren, making the decision to drop one of the most popular IndyCars drivers - James Hinchcliffe, all the more surprising for fans of the series.

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With Hinchcliffe expecting to have kept his seat for a sixth season running next year, the lateness of the announcement has left the driver with little in the way of options for the coming year - something that team owner Sam Schmidt hopes won't hinder the likeable former race winner chances of securing something for the year ahead.

“So it's a gut-wrenching decision, but we were faced with an opportunity to pick up these two young guns coming out of Indy Lights that already have 13, 14, 15 years worth of experience and it was just an opportunity that we couldn't pass up" said Schmidt during the driver announcement.​

“So everything's amicable: I have all the faith in the world that James is going to wind up in a full-time ride and Ric and I are fully supportive of that. So it's just a competitive environment and for our partners… – it was a group decision – we got an opportunity in front of us, we got to take it, we want to go win races.”

Former driver Marcus Ericsson has already agreed a deal to drive with the crack Chip Ganassi team next year, and the other Arrow contracted driver, Robert Wickens, remains on the team payroll as he continues his recovery from a serious injury sustained during the 2018 racing season.

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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.


Really disappointed to see James Hinchcliffe released on such short notice. Not a very sporting move on the part of Arrow McLaren.
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