Hinchcliffe, Palou and Sette Camara on Coyne shortlist
Dale Coyne has confirmed that James Hinchcliffe is on his shortlist of drivers to take the IndyCar seat vacated by Sebastien Bourdais, but said that F2 ace Sergio Sette Camara and Super Formula race winner Alex Palou are also in the running.
Hinchcliffe, a six-time IndyCar race winner and 2016 Indy 500 polesitter, found himself dumped by Arrow McLaren SP in October as the team elected to replace he and rookie Marcus Ericsson with the two most recent Indy Lights champions, Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew.
Hinchcliffe has stayed quiet on the matter since the shock announcement in late October, tweeting only that he was still aiming for a full-season ride in 2020.
However, while Hinchcliffe’s experience and ability on all types of track in the IndyCar schedule would appear to put him in prime position to replace Bourdais – another off-season casualty – in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing-Honda, Motorsport.com sources believe that Alex Palou is currently at the head of the DCR shortlist.
Asked directly about Palou, who won a race and finished third in Japan’s Super Formula championship this year, Coyne told Motorsport.com: “No, he hasn’t signed yet. We’ll see.
“Alex was highly impressive when he tested for us at Mid-Ohio. He was 0.8sec quicker than [ex-Formula 1 racer, current IMSA ace] Felipe Nasr in the Arrow [Schmidt Peterson] car, and Nasr had the advantage of knowing the track. So yeah, Palou did a hell of a job considering everything was new to him.”
Asked if the 22-year-old Spaniard came with Honda backing, Coyne replied: “No, although Honda are really high on him. But actually, that’s the rub: in all honesty, I think they’d like to keep him in Super Formula. It’s Alex who wants to move on.
“So no, it’s not a done deal yet. We’ve looked at about 10 drivers, and we’re down to three or four real quality guys. Palou is one, Hinchcliffe is another, Sette Camara is another, and the fourth one I don’t think you’d guess – and I wouldn’t tell you even if you did!
“Camara did a great job in Abu Dhabi: he won the first race, and when they reversed the [top eight] grid for the sprint race, he came through to third; he’d be strong, I’m sure. But he’s looking at other teams, too, like Carlin.”
Regarding prospective announcements, Coyne replied: “Honestly, we’re really hoping we’ll be able to make one announcement this side of Christmas and it will be everything at once – both drivers and the engineering staff.
“The [Santino] Ferrucci deal looks like it’s coming together and Olivier [Boisson] will be staying on as his race engineer. And it certainly looks like Craig [Hampson] will stay with us [as technical director and race engineer for the #18 car].
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