Lotus-Mercedes deal reportedly signed, awaiting announcement

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The deal for Mercedes to supply Lotus with engines from the 2015 season has already been signed according to reports in the British Grand Prix paddock.

It was reported earlier this week that the British team was refusing to comment on rumors that it would be making the move away from Renault power units, which have proved troublesome at the best of times this season. However, according to British publication Autosport and veteran journalist Adam Cooper, the deal has already been signed.

In fact, the deal was due to be announced in the paddock at Silverstone this weekend, but both parties opted to bide their time before going public.

This new deal will work out for Mercedes, who did look set to drop down to just two external clients upon McLaren’s move to Honda engines in 2015. However, this contract with Lotus will make up for it.

It will also remove the last Renault connection at Lotus. The team emerged out of the Renault works team which won both F1 world championships back in 2005 and 2006, and the relationship at Enstone dates back to Michael Schumacher’s days with Benetton.

The deal will undoubtedly be good news for the Lotus team, given that the Mercedes power unit has been by far the most dominant so far this season.

2015 F1 engine contracts

Mercedes – 4 (Mercedes, Lotus, Williams, Force India).
Ferrari – 3 (Ferrari, Sauber, Marussia)
Renault – 3 (Red Bull, Caterham, Toro Rosso)
Honda – 1 (McLaren)

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.