ABOVE: Hinchcliffe won and Newgarden starred at Sao Paulo this year (All pics: LAT)
The architect behind James Hinchcliffe’s three IndyCar Series wins will continue working with the Andretti Autosport team in 2014, but when the Canadian returns to the cockpit, he’ll have a new engineer to collaborate with on the engineering stand.
RACER has learned championship-winning engineer Craig Hampson (BELOW, with Hinchcliffe) has transitioned to a new role within Andretti’s engineering group, taking on overarching R&D responsibilities for the top-tier outfit.
Hampson, who engineered Sebastien Bourdais to his Champ Car titles while working for the Illinois-based Newman/Haas Racing organization, received numerous offers to join other teams once NHR exited IndyCar after the 2011 season. He’d work part-time with Dragon Racing in 2012 and spent the 2013 season traveling and winning with Hinch, but with the team’s need to keep pace with rivals Ganassi Racing and Team Penske, Hampson was given a chance to use his considerable skills in a more family-friendly, shop-based role for the team.
Nathan O’Rourke, who established himself as one of the leading young engineers in the series while running Josef Newgarden (BELOW, with O’Rourke) at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, has been signed to take over Hampson’s race engineering duties on Hinch’s No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda.
?Craig (Hampson) was a great asset as the lead engineer on the 27 car’s program for 2013, but his long term goal has always been to be more involved in the R&D process.,? team owner Michael Andretti told RACER. ?We feel Craig will continue to be a strong asset to the team as our new Director of Research and Development. We’re happy to welcome Nathan [O’Rourke] to the Andretti family, and look forward to watching him and Hinch continue, and build upon, the success the 27 program saw this last season.?
O’Rourke is the latest in a number of high-profile engineering changes within the IndyCar Series. Dale Coyne Racing and driver Justin Wilson recently lost engineer Bill Pappas to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, where Pappas will engineer Graham Rahal next season.
Coyne quickly hired Michael Cannon, who engineered Andretti’s E.J. Viso in 2013, to work with Wilson, and with O’Rourke’s departure, the SFHR team now has a job opening to fill in Newgarden’s program.