CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Popular Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe is reported to have lost his wheel to the new Arrow McLaren SP Racing team, according to information collected by theAssociated Press with two knowledgeable people. This decision comes despite repeated assurances that Hinchcliffe would not leave this team despite the arrival of McLaren.
Hinchcliffe learned Sunday he was replaced by Indy Lights 2018 Champion Pato O'Ward, and said goodbye to team staff on Monday, according to the two sources consulted. They spoke on condition of anonymity because McLaren should officially announce that Wednesday at the earliest that his duo of drivers for 2020 will be composed of O'Ward and the champion in title Indy Lights, Oliver Askew.
McLaren had planned to line up his own two-car IndyCar team in 2020 until his resounding failure to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with Fernando Alonso in May. The Formula One brand has finally decided to join the existing team owned by Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson and sponsored by Arrow.
This forced the Schmidt Group to move from Honda to Chevrolet, a problematic situation for Hinchcliffe because of its personal sponsorship agreement with Honda Canada. This raised speculation that Hinchcliffe would find a compromise in his contract and would remain a Honda driver, but almost all parties insisted that he drive under the McLaren banner.
The departure of Hinchcliffe for the benefit of O'Ward was reported for the first time by Racer Magazine.