AUSTIN, Texas — IndyCar drivers are watching Robert Wickens’ determined recovery from a horrific crash last season and cheering him on in hopes he will be able to return to racing.
Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash last August at Pocono Raceway. He has been updating his recovery with videos on social media during his rehabilitation. Wickens has vowed to return to racing.
“I firmly believe he will do it,” said James Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport teammate and a fellow Canadian. “He’s driven as all get-out. He’s pushing himself harder than he probably should be. We are excited to see him back on the racetrack as soon as possible.”
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has a two-car driver lineup this season with Hinchcliffe and new driver Marcus Ericsson, though the team has made it clear a seat is available should Wickens return this season.
Wickens’ car sailed into the fence at Pocono and he suffered a thoracic spinal fracture, spinal cord injury, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, fractures in both hands, a fractured right forearm, a fractured elbow, four fractured ribs and a pulmonary contusion.
“There’s a lot of unknowns but he’s giving it his best shot and that’s pretty inspiring,” Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais said Monday at IndyCar media day. The entire 2019 IndyCar season will be broadcast on the networks on NBC, including the Indianapolis 500.
Hinchcliffe survived a violent crash in 2015 when he was impaled by a piece of his car’s suspension when his car broke apart in a practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He said that crash and Wickens’ crash never made him second-guess his decision to race.
“We’re wired differently. We’re wired wrong. It never once made me pause and consider my own career,” Hinchcliffe said.
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.