Arrow McLaren SP moved a little bit closer to the 2020 season this week with the unveiling of its new logo and the launch of its new website.
It’s another step forward to a full-season effort next year, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It’s nice to have a some team infrastructure worked out, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding the team.
Still, the biggest question remains: who will be the drivers?
Of course, James Hinchcliffe is still under contract for one more year as a holdover from the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing days, but there’s really been nothing official yet. Strangely, despite ownership saying that Hinch is their driver, there has been nothing official in terms of a “James Hinchcliffe will be driving the No. XX car for us next year…”, and there is nothing on the website confirming his spot on the team.
I know there are a lot of legal things that have to be worked out as Hinch is under a personal contract to Honda and AMSP will be powered by Chevrolet, but the limbo, whether unofficial or otherwise, is still really strange. I don’t believe any of it has to do with the Robin Miller conspiracy theory about the higher-ups being mad that Hinchcliffe participated in the ESPN Body Issue, but why nothing major has been announced is really bizarre.
I’d like to hope that it’s just a matter of getting everything in line before a big, larger-than-life driver announcement is made, because in the end, having Hinch as part of the team would be something that would allow the team to get off to a good start in IndyCar. In Hinchcliffe, you have a driver who is entering his 10th year in the series, has won six races and is typically a fixture in the Top 10 almost every weekend.
For Hinchcliffe, this situation, however uncomfortable it may seem sometimes, is a perfect fit. He would again be the No. 1 driver, which is a situation he is used to and is a situation he couldn’t find with another team. Is it a funding issue? Possibly, but when has funding ever been an issue for McLaren?
I know that everyone has said up and down that Hinch is there guy for next year, I’d just like to see something totally official that confirms it, because right now it seems everyone is saying the right things just because contracts tell them they have to.
That leaves the second seat, which I think is Pato O’Ward’s to lose. Though he failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, O’Ward was putting together a solid age-20 season, highlighted by an eighth-place finish at COTA in his season debut. After finishing 17th at Road America, O’Ward joined the Red Bull program and headed to Japan to compete in the Super Formula series.
With it being determined that O’Ward wouldn’t receive enough Superlicense points to compete in Formula 1 in 2020, he was released from his contract and now moves to the Silly Season head of the line. O’Ward’s only issue is and has been funding, but if you are building from the ground up the best thing to do is pair a veteran driver with a young driver with huge potential, and that’s what Arrow McLaren SP would have with a Hinchcliffe/O’Ward pairing.
Though much has been revealed, as we head into November, much still remains a mystery for the newest kid on the IndyCar block. I’m sure things will eventually be brought into more focus, but for now it all seems a little too sketchy for my comfort.
Pit Lane Parley
There’s never an off-season for the PLP crew, as this week’s episode features an interview with Josh Blackburn, a discussion about Trevor Carlin’s comments on team size, listener questions and more. You can check it out on iTunes or your favorite listening platform.