Stewart has concerns about future of Indian GP

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Three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has raised concerns over plans for the Indian Grand Prix to be omitted from the 2014 calendar in favor of an earlier slot in 2015, believing that it could hurt the race in the future.

“It is certainly not a good message the Indian Grand Prix is sending out to the motorsport world, and is not positive for India’s image when questions are raised about it,” Stewart explained in an interview with the Indo-Asian news service. “But as I am not aware of the implications involved, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”

The Indian Grand Prix debuted back in 2011 and enjoyed a successful first running with a bumper crowd of well over 100,000 people. However, a fall in attendees of almost 50% last season has prompted the race promoters to cut ticket prices, but Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that the race would not appear on the 2014 calendar, raising questions about the future of the race. However, according to the president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, this is purely to accommodate a grand prix in the spring of 2015.

Regardless of the plans being made, Stewart believes that it is crucial to keep the Indian Grand Prix on the calendar.

“F1 is now one of the largest sports in the world, simply because from March until the end of November, there is a race almost every two weeks with large car makers involved and a lot of major multi-national corporations joining it,” the Scot said. “So, I think it would be good and beneficial for India to have a Grand Prix, attracting the world’s attention for that weekend.”

This year’s race at Buddh International Circuit is set to take place on October 27th.

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.