Citing low television ratings, GoDaddy – which serves as the primary backer of James Hinchcliffe’s No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet in the IZOD IndyCar Series – appears unlikely to return to the series in the same role next year according to a report from Autoweek.
Per Autoweek, Andretti Autosport senior vice president and chief marketing officer John Lopes said on Indianapolis’ WFNI-AM (1070 The Fan) that while he was still optimistic that GoDaddy would retain some sort of role with the team, he noted that the company prefers to “measure their return on investment based on TV.”
Hinchcliffe is one of the bigger prizes in this year’s IndyCar Silly Season, as he has claimed three victories this season – which is also the final year of his current pact with Andretti Autosport.
The team is trying to keep him on board and perhaps away from a potential fourth program at Chip Ganassi Racing – a program that could also be in play for Indianapolis 500 champion and current KV Racing driver Tony Kanaan, who’s been candid this summer about his ongoing struggle to find more funding.
But Hinchcliffe would appear in position to be the first big domino to fall in Silly Season. Once he’s settled, Kanaan and the other free agents in the paddock will likely begin their own moves to tweak the 2014 grid.
Lopes told 1070 The Fan that he was “cautiously optimistic” about retaining Hinchcliffe, noting that several companies are interested in backing him next year – although none have committed as of now.
“[Hinchcliffe’s] deal’s not done, but we’re certainly not giving up the ghost on it,” Lopes said.
But with GoDaddy’s apparent departure as a primary sponsor at Andretti Autosport, it would seem that Hinchcliffe has another matter to ponder as he goes about deciding his future.
UPDATE (11:46 a.m. ET): The Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer has tweeted the following response from GoDaddy:
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.