Here are some more notes from the Arrow McLaren Racing SP announcement. I’ve gleaned these from a teleconference with McLaren Racing’s Zak Brown and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ and other discussions with various people within the NTT IndyCar Series paddock.
Hinch and Ericsson
By far, the hottest topic of conversation is the future of current driver James Hinchcliffe. The veteran Canadian who is a spokesperson for Honda in Canada and the United States has one more year on his contract with the team, and at the moment everybody is saying he’ll return for the final year of the deal with Arrow McLaren Racing SP.
The statement that the pilot of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda released was:
“It’s an exciting day for all of us with Arrow McLaren SP and the culmination of a lot of hard work put in by all. My love for motorsports started on those weekends watching F1 races with my Dad and McLaren was a huge part of that. To be able to drive for that name is a dream come true.
Thank you to Arrow, Patro Canada Lubricants and all of our partners that put us in this position.
It is rather unfortunate what this means for our relationship with Honda. They are another company that has done so much for me, and when the time is right, a discussion to what that means for my partnership with them and Honda Canada will need to occur, but that is secondary right now to this exciting new. I’ve worked with General Motors in the past and look forward to rekindling that relationship in 2020.
When asked if James Hinchcliffe’s relationship with Honda would impede keeping him as a driver, team principal Schmidt said:
“No, I mean, we really don’t. James has been a great asset to the team for the last five years. He’s a brilliant ambassador for all of our partners.
“It’s one of those unfortunate things when you do what’s best for the team, but the relationship with Honda Canada and American Honda were direct between James and them, and so we don’t even know — we don’t even know what those details were, what those obligations were.
“We don’t anticipate it having an effect on the final year of his contract as far as we’re concerned, but yeah, we’re excited to have him on our team.”