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Whats going on: Are we sure that McLaren wants Hinch?

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  • Whats going on: Are we sure that McLaren wants Hinch?

    I struggled with which thread to put this under before deciding to start a new one. But this is really about a different topic: The future of one James Hinchcliffe.

    My conclusion based on going for a walk and then coming back in and reading everything over, is that maybe McLaren isn't all that sold on Hinchcliffe as one of their drivers for next season.

    Let's take a walk through the jumble of facts:

    FIRST: Hinch seems to be under contract to SPM for next season. From what everyone seems to be saying, SPM is obligated to pay him for next season. But are they obligated to let him drive a car?

    SECOND: As lots and lots of people have pointed out, if SPAM (Schmidt-Peterson-Arrow-McLaren) was sold on him as one of their drivers, wouldn't they have come out and said it up front this morning? But they did not. And they were really careful they way they worded things. On the one hand, driver decisions are for leadership of the new team to make. But One of the more interesting statements was this one from Zak Brown

    As we now get into our review of what do we want to do together, drivers and long-term thinking, even beyond ‘20, is arguably one of the most – if not the most – important element of a successful IndyCar team. And so, no decisions have been made yet. Experience is very important. And having a long runway.

    f you look at what we did in Formula 1, we have two young drivers, one rookie, one quite experienced, and that’s working really well with Lando (Norris) and Carlos (Sainz). So, I’m not saying that’s exactly the same approach we’ll take, but I think it gives you a sense of the type of thinking that we think makes sense. And we’re going to do this very hand in hand with Sam (Schmidt). Drivers is something he knows a lot about. Moving forward, our decisions are not McLaren decisions or SPM decisions, they’re group decisions. We’re now one team.
    Parsing that out a bit: Does Hinchcliffe (who will be 33 when the next season rolls around) look like Norris (Who's 19) or Sainz (Who's 24)? Not really. As far as runway analogies go, Norris and Sainz are taking off. Hinch is probably Landing.

    THIRD: Sam Schmidt's statements fall short of a ringing endorsement:

    As far as we’re concerned, we have another year on James’ contract and we intend on fulfilling that. Today’s announcement was obviously about McLaren, Chevrolet, Arrow and ourselves, and we wanted to get that out there for the sake of the commercial deals so we can start working on joint deals for next year. Then we figured we’d deal with driver announcements in the coming weeks.
    From my point of view, There is no good reason to withhold the announcement that they are keeping Hinch if they are intent on keeping him.

    WHAT I THINK IS GOING ON:

    For SPAM, Hinchcliffe is at best a fall back. As in, they'd like to have two other guys (one is almost certainly Nasr), but if they can't get them, they will let Hinchcliffe drive one of their cars for a season.

    And if one of the Honda teams wants Hinchcliffe in the meantime, then McLaren will let him go ... for the right price.

    There are three possibilities:

    1) McLaren won't get the two guys they really want, and they will live with Hinch for a year.

    2) Hinch will find someone (Honda or a Honda team) that will buy him out of the SPM contract.

    3) McLaren will get the two guys they want and buy Hinch out of the SPM contract. In that case, there will either be a seat open, or there won't. Hopefully he can keep his TV gig.

    What do you think is going on?

  • #2
    Pretty solid theorizing Bullwinkle. Reading the tea leaves you have to think option one seems the most plausible. Not necessarily to the detriment of Hinch but it could be to stay with his home team until the contract runs out then become a top Honda player in '21. It's really hard to believe that Honda, who put big bucks into him and his brand would let him walk without a plan. That seems incredibly short sighted. Of course Hinch could just want to be too dog. And realistically what Honda team could he do that for??

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    • #3
      I’ve been saying this for a while. Honda obviously wouldn’t budge, Zak decides to buy the team and contract of their “US face” and is trying to get the top young Honda driver in Colton. It’s a pretty interesting game of chicken. I would bet the buyout of Hinch’s contract won’t be cheap. I have a hard time believing that Hinch would be in Zak’s top 5 choices.
      We're gonna go extinct, and we're gonna do it drinking scotch and driving muscle cars.

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      • #4
        According to Zak Brown, they do want him and expect him to drive for them in 2020.

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        • #5
          They should run 4 cars
          "I wasn't going to finish 2nd today...2nd was not in the cards...I was either going to win or i was not going to finish at all..." Eddie Cheever-Victory Lane,Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1998

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          • #6
            I think they wanted to announce their partnership, and get that done, before the media found out and announced it anyway. The drivers weren't announced because they weren't ready. I take Sam's statement at face value.

            It'll take some time to sort out Hinch's Honda side contracts and they didn't want to wait. That's it. They want Hinch back and he wants to stay. It just isn't finished yet. Yes, there is a 'very good reason' to withhold an announcement even if there is intent. You don't announce something until it is signed.

            Yes, Hinch fits the mold of the 'experienced driver', Sainz being 24 has nothing to do with anything.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by CP View Post
              I think they wanted to announce their partnership, and get that done, before the media found out and announced it anyway. The drivers weren't announced because they weren't ready. I take Sam's statement at face value.

              It'll take some time to sort out Hinch's Honda side contracts and they didn't want to wait. That's it. They want Hinch back and he wants to stay. It just isn't finished yet. Yes, there is a 'very good reason' to withhold an announcement even if there is intent. You don't announce something until it is signed.

              Yes, Hinch fits the mold of the 'experienced driver', Sainz being 24 has nothing to do with anything.
              Until I'm proven otherwise - I agree they want Hinch in the car in 2020.
              Real drivers don't need fenders!

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              • #8
                Of the drivers they hire, at least one has to be an absolute animal on ovals.

                I do not think the Sainz-Norris pairing is applicable to Indycars. They need (and, IMO, will have) a true leader, a Dixon-type. Others who could fit the bill would be RHR, Rahal, Rossi, Hinch, and any of the Penske drivers.

                A young driver with knowledge of the tracks would be ideal, but I can see them hiring a Felipe Nasr. Herta or Pato would be better.

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                • #9
                  To me it sounds like Hinch is under contract next year, but if I were him I'd get a head start in the paddock looking for a ride. That sounds like what he was already doing at Mid-Ohio

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                  • #10
                    I’m expecting The Mayor at AMSP for a year, but wouldn’t be surprised if he is bought out. Masr, Ward or Herta in the second seat, but Andretti needs to keep Herta under lock and key. Could be most popular driver in series in a year or 2. My 30 something son has become an Indycar fan again and become a huge Colton fan.

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                    • #11
                      I don't get why anyone would think McLaren wouldn't want Hinch. He's a winning, experienced Indy car driver who is popular with the fans.
                      "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

                      "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

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                      • #12
                        I just felt like posting this.

                        f1-australian-gp-1990-ayrton-s.jpg

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                        • #13
                          I think it is interesting that Rahal announced that he is close for funding for a third car next year. Maybe they are working on a deal to bring Hinch over which would be a perfect fit.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sea Fury View Post
                            I don't get why anyone would think McLaren wouldn't want Hinch. He's a winning, experienced Indy car driver who is popular with the fans.
                            Has shown he is not a top tier driver. Record at Indy is not steller. Honda guy.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pole Day View Post
                              To me it sounds like Hinch is under contract next year, but if I were him I'd get a head start in the paddock looking for a ride. That sounds like what he was already doing at Mid-Ohio
                              Agreed. I'm sure Honda would be loathe to part with Hinch, and vice-versa given the Honda Canada sponsorship bit.

                              For what it's worth and if I recall correctly, Chaves was under contract with Harding Racing, too, but didn't find himself in a seat with them after the reformation of the team involving Steinbrenner.

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