There will be significant changes at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the coming months.
The team has signed a technical alliance with McLaren, who returns to the NTT IndyCar Series full time, for the first time since 1979.
The collaboration means that the outlook of the team will change quite a bit.
SPM has traditionally been a Honda team, but McLaren and Honda had quite a bit of a fall out, to put it mildly, after their Formula 1 break-up, so it will be Chevrolet engines for them in 2020.
The engine change will most likely lead to the departure of James Hinchcliffe. The Canadian has a strong connection to Honda, where he is their public face in both USA and Canada. It’s yet unclear how it will affect Marcus Ericsson and Robert Wickens.
SPM works together with Meyer Shank Racing during the current season, with Jack Harvey in the driving seat. MSR have strong connections to Honda/Acura with their sportscar programme, so that partnership will most likely end, too, after this season has finished.
McLaren took part in the Indianapolis 500 race in 2017, where they did a deal with Andretti Autosport, when things were still quite OK between McLaren and Honda. The British team tried to qualify with Fernando Alonso again in 2019, but this time around it was in a Carlin partnership, where McLaren did a lot of preparations and running the car themselves. That didn’t go all to plan, when they showed up unprepared for the Indy 500, and made loads of mistakes. It all went even more off-track when Alonso crashed the car, and they had to revert to the spare car, which was even less prepared. And they ended up not qualifying for the race.
SPM had a similar experience in 2018, where it was Hinch who didn’t qualify for the race.
Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson will still be in charge of the team, while Gil de Ferran will be the connection to McLaren, keeping and eye on the programme.
No drivers are yet confirmed, so time will tell.
The change makes some Honda engines available for other teams to take up. Honda and Chevrolet try to get close to a 50/50 split on the grid.
We will keep you posted, when the driver announcement for 2020 at Arrow McLaren Racing SP is made public.