Hinchcliffe and Newman/Haas deal close but not done UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
04/04/11 Hearing rumors that Hinchcliffe could be announced as early as Tuesday.
03/23/11 James Hinchcliffe left little doubt after last week’s final IndyCar Series test that should he secure a full-time ride in North America’s premier open-wheel category, the Canadian would be a front-runner.
While understandably frustrated not to be participating in this weekend’s 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season-opener, the ‘Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg’, the 24-year-old will still be on-hand to watch the action up-close and personal as part of the Newman/Haas Racing team he tested with so successfully throughout the off-season.
Hinchcliffe’s third and final outing for the Illinois-based outfit, last week’s full-field test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, saw the rookie comfortably amongst the pace-setters, finishing the first day fifth fastest and the second day seventh quickest having earlier topped the timesheets trading lap-times with team-mate and veteran racer, Oriol Servia.
As the lead rookie and top Canadian throughout the test, last year’s Firestone Indy Lights Runner-Up knows he’s capable of taking on the best in IndyCar, he’s just going to have to wait a little longer before making his race debut.
“It's frustrating to have to watch the first race of the season from the sidelines, especially after the open test where we performed pretty well against the whole field,” said the Canadian candidly. “That said, I can only look at the positives from all we’ve done over the past few months. I’ve demonstrated what I can do behind the wheel and trust me, there are a bunch of people working flat out to find the appropriate partners for me to make the most of the platform on offer.
“I have to say though, I want to be here long-term so we’re looking to find partners that can offer multi-year support in order to reap the benefits of a commercial program with me competing in the IndyCar Series. While it would be great to get some race starts under my belt, there’s little point in a stop-start campaign. I don’t necessarily want to be back to square one at the end of each season so if that means taking the time now to find the right partners, then that’s the deal we’ll work on!”
On being with Newman/Haas Racing this weekend as part of the team and a visible presence on the pit-wall ‘Hinch’ commented:
“I’d like to thank Newman/Haas Racing for inviting me to continue to be part of the team on IndyCar weekends. Yes, I want to be driving, but I’m still going to make the most of every opportunity, in or out of the car, to do all I can to achieve my goal. I know I have a lot to offer and I’m happy to work with the team in St Petersburg and keep myself dialed into what’s going on. They’re as keen as I am to make something happen – we have a common goal!”03/22/11 Word is that James Hinchcliffe and the Newman/Haas team have not come to an agreement for 2011 yet and he will sit out the St. Petersburg GP this weekend. They have not given up on doing a deal for the remaining races though.