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Red Bull confirms TAG deal, hints at engine rebrand

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Red Bull has confirmed that TAG Heuer will make the move across from McLaren to become its official timing partner for the 2016 Formula One season.

Earlier this month, TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver revealed in an interview that the Swiss watch brand would be ending its 30-year relationship with McLaren at the end of the season.

In a tweet sent from Red Bull Racing’s official Twitter account on Thursday, it confirmed that TAG Heuer would not only be making the switch across, but also hinted that a bigger relationship between the two parties may be on the cards.

Red Bull’s engine crisis looks to be over, with indications from the paddock being that the team will run a rebranded Renault engine in 2016 after a tumultuous season.

“Wait and see what it is called,” team principal Christian Horner said in Abu Dhabi.

“It will be something quite good. I don’t think [McLaren CEO] Ron Dennis will be very happy, but he hasn’t been very happy recently.”

In light of these comments and the tweet sent with the TAG Heuer workers looking at the engine, it is feasible that Red Bull may be set to rebrand the Renault engines as ‘TAG’ for 2016.

This was first done by Dennis back in 1983 when he rebranded McLaren’s Porsche engine as TAG before tying it in with the TAG Heuer deal two years later.

The move would most certainly irk those at McLaren given not only the team’s long-running relationship with TAG Heuer, but also the success enjoyed in the McLaren-TAG years.

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.