James Hinchcliffe says he would be open to taking over a car that’s qualified for the Indianapolis 500 if a seat was purchased for him.
Trouble for the No.5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda on Bump Day forced Hinchcliffe to abort a late attempt to qualify and then watch as time ran out to make the final 33 as both he and Pippa Mann missed out. As it stands, the No. 5 failed to qualify; but because it’s the car that qualifies he could take over another car.
When asked if he’d do so if the opportunity presented itself, he replied: “I’m here to race at the end of the day.
“I race for Sam [Schmidt] and Ric [Peterson] and whatever Sam or Rick tell me to do I will do. I believe that there are some options being investigated but at this point I don’t know any more than you do.”
While a switch with another SPM driver is one avenue to explore, Hinchcliffe could also take the place of any other driver on the grid should a deal be agreed to buy a seat.
Explaining his failure to qualify in more detail, Hinchcliffe says the team has identified the cause of a big vibration that forced him to pit before starting what turned out to be his final attempt.
“I pulled out of the pits, the track had been getting a little bit quicker so we were pretty optimistic to be honest and as soon as I left pit lane I felt a horrible vibration. Called it in but weirdly it started to go away so I just thought maybe I had some pickup on my tires or something. So I called into the team and said ‘No, I think it’s alright, I’m going to keep going.’
“Then at Turn 3 it was back again and it was violent. So came in and have since diagnosed a tire pressure sensor failure. It kind of broke off the rim and was rattling around inside the tire, which at 200mph-plus doesn’t feel good.”
With Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi inside the 33 and attempting to improve their times, the No.63 of Pippa Mann was ahead of Hinchcliffe in Lane 1 and got out for one final run before the session ended, depriving the No.5 of another attempt.
“I haven’t been on the internet, I haven’t heard anything myself, but I’ve heard some stuff from other people — this is in no way Pippa Mann’s fault or anybody else in line’s fault, this is our fault. So if there is anybody out there who has anything bad to say, you don’t know motorsports and keep your mouth shut.”