Loyal Canadian followers have been anxiously awaiting to hear about Hinchcliffe’s plans beyond the Indy 500, and in particular, if he’ll be in the field at his home race in Toronto.
“Yeah, unfortunately that’s a TBD scenario,” he said. “That race survived for 30 years well before me. So it’s going to be just fine if we’re not there this year. And the important thing to remember is that we are going to be there in ’21. And even if we are unable to get ourselves behind the wheel of an Indy car for that  event, I’m still going to be there. I’m still going to be working with the series and the promoters to make sure that it’s the best event that it can be that we promote the hell out of it and get all the fans in there to see what a show any cars put on or on the streets of Toronto.
“Honda obviously supports that event in a tremendous way. And if I’ve got to be there as an ambassador for them, that’s going to be my role. I understand that 2020 is going to look a bit different for me and feel a bit different for me. And a lot of my ‘outside of the car’ [plans] are the same — that’s grow the sport, grow the sport back home, make sure the Toronto event’s a great one. And so we’ll be there in one capacity or another, but I just can’t tell you right now whether or not we were going to be able to be behind the wheel of an Indy car.”
With his career ambitions back on track and moving forward, Hinchcliffe addressed the subject that led to prolonged silence after his seat was rescinded at Arrow McLaren SP. The change in employment terms were not, as he shares, foreshadowed leading up to the split.
“The answer is yes, very shocked,” he said. “Here’s why. I’m not naive, and this is not my first rodeo in the motorsports world. The Spidey-sense tingling happened in August when the announcement of the [new McLaren partnership with SP] change happened publicly. We knew what that could have potentially meant and, frankly, [I] had a very upfront conversation with upper levels at [AMSP]. For 10 straight weeks, every day, got looked in the eye and told we were fine, we were the guy for 2020.
“So after 10 weeks of being told everything was fine, I had let my guard down and accepted that we were going to go racing in 2020. That’s why it was a shock. If in August, when I asked them the day the announcement came out, ‘Hey, if you guys are looking to make a change, let me know now. Just be honest with me, because we can shake hands and leave on good terms.’ Because I had options. I had teams trying to hire me at that moment. But I had a contract that I felt it was my obligation to honor, because that’s an important word to me as well. That’s why it was a shock. Not because of what they ultimately did or why they wanted to do it. I get that. It’s the how and the when that was the shock.”
Despite Arrow McLaren SP’s public offer to keep Hinchcliffe on the payroll with its Chevy-powered team, and its history of entering an extra car for the Indy 500, the six-time race winner is in the final stages of choosing a new team with a familiar engine partner.
“Honda has been very good to me over the last bunch of years in IndyCar, and so it will be with a Honda-powered team,” he says. “We’re in the nitty gritty. We’re getting down to the final details, but we’re very confident of the program that’s coming together and excited to be able to announce it hopefully very soon.”