Sam Schmidt explained why the newly formed Arrow McLaren SP team decided to go with Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew for 2020 and let James Hinchcliffe go.
“…it’s a gut-wrenching decision, but we were faced with an opportunity to pick up these two young guns coming out of Indy Lights that already have 13, 14, 15 years worth of experience…” Schmidt said.
Hinchcliffe is still under contract, which the team will honor. If Hinchcliffe needs a release to drive for another team, it will be granted. Schmidt has no doubt that he will find a ride somewhere.
Robert Wickens is still part of the team as a consultant and driver coach. The car number 6 is still reserved for him, and Schmidt expects him at the majority of races next season. AMSP still has rights to the numbers 5 and 7, but hasn’t determined which driver will will have which number. No decision has been made on who will drive in next week’s aeroscreen test at Sebring.
The drivers are looking forward to their opportunities. O’Ward has run eight Indycar races and Askew debuts at St. Petersburg. O’Ward is excited to restart in Indycar with a newly organized team.
Pato O’Ward at Sonoma in his Indycar debut. Photo: Stephen King, Indycar
AMSP could be an exciting team to watch in 2020. We have an idea of what O’Ward can do, and I’m interested to see how Askew adapts to Indycar.
The team has a lot of PR work to do with the fans. I think they could have handled the Hinchcliffe situation better, but this is a business, and tough personnel decisions happen a lot.
McLaren especially needs to demonstrate that they can run an Indycar team properly after last year’s Indianapolis debacle.
While Schmidt seemed to be the team’s lead spokesman during the teleconference today, I still wonder how much he and Ric Peterson will be involved in 2020 and beyond. I’d feel better if their names were more a part of the the team name and logo.