Ferrari and McLaren prepare to do battle off the track

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F1’s two most successful teams of the last four decades are squaring up to each other off the track as both reveal their latest top-of-the-range road cars.

Ferrari unveiled the LaFerrari (see video below) at the Geneva International Motor Show today. It will go up against the McLaren P1 (pictured) for the honor of being the ultimate hybrid supercar.

The LaFerrari – a curious choice of name which translates simply to ‘The Ferrari’ – boasts a 6.2-litre V12 engine whose 788hp output is enhanced by the addition of a hybrid engine, giving it a total of 950hp.

In contrast the P1’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 and hybrid motor produce a combined 903hp. Yet both companies claim their beasts will hit 217.5mph. “There is rarely any need to go fastest,” a McLaren spokesperson added drily.

Unlike the LaFerrari, the P1 can be driven solely in electric mode with a range of 12.4 miles at an average speed of 30mph. “More than enough for an owner to enter a city centre Zero Emissions Zone, have dinner and return home,” say McLaren. Jenson Button arrived at the launch of the team’s 2013 F1 contender in one, then the P1 silently reversed out of view.

Ferrari says an electric-only mode “would not fit the mission” of their car but admit they tested the technology: “a full-electric version of LaFerrari achieved just 220g/km of C02 emissions on the combined cycle”.

Both are keen to play up the F1 connections of their machines, referring to their hybrid engines as “Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems”. McLaren take it a step further, with “DRS”-like active aerodynamics and a launch control system dubbed IPAS (Instant Power Assist System).

Both cars reflect the traditions of the companies: Ferrari engine-led, McLaren technology-focused. Ferrari are yet to name their price, but don’t expect it to cost much less than the P1’s $1.3m price tag.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.