Lots of things can happen in a week in IndyCar. However fans, analysts, and teams have only two weeks to digest it all and prime for the IndyCar finale. In this edition of the IndyCar Notebook, news surrounds Honda and Honda-related personnel. Prior to his first pole in IndyCar and his second win, Alexander Rossi made a big commitment to Andretti Autosport. Andretti in turn, made a big commitment to Honda; and Honda-powered Schmidt Peterson Motorsports may be close to keeping a piece of its driver line-up. All that in the Notebook. Let’s go!
Rossi signs multi-year deal with Andretti
Rossi is sticking around Andretti Autosport for the foreseeable future. When Rossi came to IndyCar in 2016, it was seen by many as temporary, with the American waiting for another shot at Formula 1. Fast forward to the present, with a surprise and dramatic 2016 Indianapolis 500 victory; an increasing skill for the nuances of IndyCar; a solid sponsor in Napa Auto Parts; his first pole and second win, Rossi’s future is in IndyCar.
Andretti commits to Honda
Owner Michael Andretti has committed to Honda, after hinting at a switch to Chevrolet. In a Facebook video, the 54-year-old former IndyCar champion (using Chevy power) said the relationship with Honda was ‘strong’.
“We’ve had strong relationships and have marked milestones with both manufacturers, but we’re pleased to continue our Honda partnership. We have a great history of success with Honda and I have no doubt that, together, our collection of achievements will continue to grow,” announced Andretti.
No one can deny Andretti’s success with Honda, 47 wins, including five Indy 500s. However, Andretti hasn’t won a championship since 2012, and the race wins since 2013 have come with less frequency. Since 2014, Andretti have won a race every 6.8 races competed in, compared to 2012-13 when they won a race every 2.6 races competed in.
It was thought that with the impending departure of Takuma Sato, Andretti would be leaning toward the domestic engine manufacturer. As of now, the 2018 Andretti driver line-up is all-American. And despite rumours of downsizing to a three-car operation, it appears that Andretti will be interviewing for Sato’s seat in the near future as hinted by in the video message.
SPM hopes to sign Hinchcliffe before Sonoma
If SPM have their way, the first part of an all-Canadian driver line-up in 2018 will be completed by the season finale in Sonoma. If SPM have their way, Hinchcliffe would and should be able to team up with team favorite, Canadian Robert Wickens in 2018.
It’s been reported by RACER that SPM is looking to resign Hinchcliffe before Sonoma. A move that would allow the team to focus on filling the vacant seat in the #7 SPM-Honda. After striking out with trying to lure Rossi away from Andretti to partner with Hinchcliffe; it appears that Wickens of DTM-Mercedes, could now be the leading contender.
However the competition for the #7 seat isn’t going to be unopposed. Esteban Gutierrez and Jack Harvey are names being tossed around as potential long-term replacements by analysts. This despite owner Sam Schmidt’s insistence that the team want rapport among drivers as well as experience for their replacement. No word whether they will include or seek Honda’s input.