Dale Coyne Racing’s busy offseason of change has continued into December with the departure of race engineer Craig Hampson. Three years of steady improvement by the perennial IndyCar underdogs appears to have reached an end, and with the latest personnel change, a rebuilding phase is set to begin as a new season approaches.
Hampson’s exit, the fourth of its kind since the championship concluded in Monterey, follows his longtime driver, Sebastien Bourdais who was unexpectedly dropped by Coyne in November. Coyne has yet to name Bourdais’ replacement, which could have contributed to the Illinois-based engineer’s decision to sign with Arrow McLaren SP.
Coyne also lost team veteran Michael Cannon in October, who engineered Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci. Cannon signed with Chip Ganassi Racing, where he’ll work with five-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. Second-year assistant engineer Trevor Green-Smith, who learned alongside Cannon in 2018 and Hampson in 2019, also departed in October, opting for Andretti Autosport, where he’s been hired as a performance engineer on one of its five full-time entries.
With Ferrucci expected to be confirmed for a second season with the team, the Connecticut native is one of a handful of frontline names to continue with the Coyne operation. France’s Olivier Boisson, who worked with Bourdais as his race engineer at KV Racing and joined the Coyne team with his countryman in 2017, is the first to step forward, and will move from his role as damper engineer to serve as Ferrucci’s race engineer.
Finding a replacement for a championship-winning engineer of Hampson’s caliber could prove challenging for Coyne this late into the offseason. Spain’s Alex Palou, who tested for DCR in July, won Rookie of the Year honors on the way to placing third in the hotly-contested Japanese Super Formula championship driving a Honda-powered entry, and has been tipped as a leading candidate replace Bourdais.
But with the loss of Hampson to consider, the vacant seat could prove to be less appealing without a high-profile engineer in position. Despite the need to recruit or promote new engineering talent, and solidify its likely pairing of Ferrucci and Palou, DCR team manager Terry Brown says the recent spate of turnovers will not hinder Coyne’s plans for 2020.
“We will run two cars this year and feel we will have a strong effort,” he told RACER. “We’ve lost two race engineers, and have a plan in place to develop promising young talent.”