On the heels of James Hinchcliffe getting let out of a ride at Arrow McLaren SP, Sebastien Bourdais was let go by Dale Coyne Racing days before Thanksgiving. In this episode, we recap all of the shuffling and scenarios in light of these high-profile drivers getting axed.
For Hinchcliffe, who is reportedly still under contract with Arrow McLaren SP, earning his half a million dollar salary, his options are slim because he’ll likely have to go to a Honda-powered team in order to have a ride in 2020. Dale Coyne Racing is a possibility with the Bourdais news, as Coyne himself says he is looking at Hinch, Alex Palou, Sergio Sette Camara and another unnamed driver according to Motorsport. Santino Ferrucci has long been expected to return in the other car, but that has gone silent. Another option could be a third seat at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which would probably be the best option for a competitive ride. Either way, Hinch would need to put together a budget to be full-time for either possibility to come to fruition.
For Bourdais, the situation is a little simpler. He quickly landed a seat in sports cars with JDC-Miller Motorsports for 2020. Racer reports that Bourdais has been pursued by Chip Ganassi for a seat on his team in 2018 and 2019, and McLaren pursued Bourdais this off-season, but all of those moves were rebuffed by Coyne. Bourdais himself says he isn’t done in IndyCar, but it’s looking like he will be Indy 500-only at best this year. 2021 would be the earliest he could return to open wheel racing unless something changes in his sports car ride.
Another piece for the silly season is Fernando Alonso. While he plans to only race in the Indy 500, the team seems to be a question. McLaren would be the obvious favorite, but Andretti Autosport has emerged as another top candidate.
Finally, there are still quite a few open seats heading into 2020. Two seats remain at A.J. Foyt Racing and Carlin, with a handful of candidates as possibilities. Dalton Kellett, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball have all been mentioned as possibilities at Foyt. Also, could Matheus Leist return? Meanwhile at Carlin, Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball, Conor Daly and Sage Karam all competed with them last season and are without rides for next year as far as official announcements go. Chilton could return to do the road and street course races or even the full schedule, while Daly showed his worth last year, Kimball was another bright spot, and Karam was quick but lacked results in a handful of races. Plus, the road and street course seat for Ed Carpenter Racing is still open too.