News broke this morning that McLaren would be joining IndyCar full time in 2020. That honestly doesn’t interest me all that much. I only follow IndyCar and associate Fernando Alonso with McLaren and am not a fan of Alonso so not a fan of McLaren by association. However, I’m always a fan of new teams joining IndyCar so I was intrigued by the possibility when we were hearing rumors and wasn’t too surprised when I read the morning headline. Once I read more of the story though, that’s when things got interesting.
While it was assumed that McLaren would look to partner with another team and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was one of the teams mentioned what I see looks more like a take over than a partnership. Obviously, I could be very wrong and we all know Sam Schmidt is a good businessman and owner but I just don’t care for this deal.
The newly formed team will now be called Arrow McLaren Racing SP. This is a ridiculous way to name the team. The SP will be dropped so fast. Maybe if it were before Racing (Arrow McLaren SP Racing) but at the end I see most people leaving it off. Also this is Sam’s team, the one he started and built to be a very competitive team. I hate that his name is not more prominent.
The team will also switch from Honda to Chevy. Earlier in the day we didn’t know what this meant for Honda spokesman and SPM driver, James Hinchcliffe. James later released a statement that he is excited about the new team and about driving a Chevy again. He said he is currently not sure what this means for his relationship with Honda.
My thoughts on this are not good. We will have to wait and see how things come together but Hinch’s contract currently ends after next year. If he gives up the Honda gig, which I’m sure has a nice monetary amount tied to it, for a one year deal with Chevy and McLaren, where does that leave him in a years time? If it’s a multi year contract I will fell better, but for one year with a new team that will have issues as they change engines, it’s a scary scenario. I want Hinch with a good team but I want him with Honda and not losing his spokesman position.
What about Robert Wickens? Again as the day went on and news trickled in it was said that Robbie still has a spot on the team. I personally feel like that is a whole lot less certain though. I trust Arrow and Sam to make good on that deal but with McLaren I wonder how much they will be willing to do and will Roberts ride turn into a three race per year deal or something just to look like they honored the deal. I see Arrow pushing harder if they make a special car for Robert with hand controls etc but wonder if Robert is fully recovered will he truly have a full ride when he returns.
Marcus Ericsson- sorry bud, all indications are you need to be looking elsewhere for a ride next year. Not happy about this, I thought Marcus had good potential and was looking forward to seeing how things went in a second season.
Colton Herta- Speculation this morning was that McLaren would want to sign Herta (as they should). Later in the day it was reported that Colton will not move. I’m not too sold on that. I think I will give it a couple more days and see how things play out. I greatly prefer Herta to stay where he is but as we know money talks. If a deal is offered that beats his current deal things could change.
Jack Harvey/Meyer Shank Racing- Here is a team that did the partnership right. They had the technical support from Arrow Schmidt Peterson but were their own team with their own car and driver. I love this combination and it was working. Harvey was doing well and improving. I was hopeful they would be full time next year and continue what was working so well with SPM. So will Meyer Shank find a new team to partner with or try it on their own. Time will tell but I’m sure it’s awfully disappointing.
All in all I’m quite upset by the news. I feel like Sam sold out, we aren’t gaining any cars and Meyer Shank got gut kicked. I’m sure it’s not completely like that. Id have to guess none of this was a surprise to those in the know around the paddock and Michael Shank might already have an amazing plan for next season, I hope so. Also Sam Schmidt is a good businessman and owner so I have to believe he knows what he is doing and that it makes good business sense and that he will retain enough control to keep running the team as he likes. To an outsider looking in though I cringe at the deal. Maybe because, as I’ve said, I don’t like Alonso I just see McLaren as a bully, thinking they are better than everyone else. I wish they had come to IndyCar and just started at the beginning and built their team into one to watch instead of coming in and taking over one that’s already established. Maybe I’m being to harsh but it will be interesting to see how this all really pans out.
Full disclosure, I’ve had some extreme neck and shoulder pain this last week that has left me feeling irritable so I’m sure I’ve been a bit more vocal than I normally am with my posts. Cut me some slack and I promise to do the same if this turns out to be a great thing for IndyCar in the long run. Time will tell.