Thursday, 12 February 2015

Interview with James Hinchcliffe

IndyCar fan favourite James Hinchcliffe goes into the 2015 season with a lot of things different from this time last year. After departing Andretti Autosport, the Canadian is back with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the team that gave him his debut in Indy Lights in 2009.

SPM's new signing took time out of his preparations for the new season to talk about last season, and his expectations of the year ahead.

Dominik Wilde: The 2014 season has been over for quite some time now, how do you look back on the past season?

James Hinchcliffe: It’s bittersweet for me. I think we accomplished a lot as a team but obviously not with the results that we wanted. I took a lot out of the season personally, I think that I developed as a driver and that is what I carry into ’15 and beyond.

Dominik Wilde: Although winless last  season, you still got into the top five on a number of occasions and took third at Mid-Ohio. Despite that, how frustrating was it to not return to the winner’s circle in ’14?

James Hinchcliffe: It was very frustrating, largely because we were in a position to win at a bunch of races but they didn’t play out, for a variety of different reasons. So that’s what was frustrating was how close we were on so many occasions.

Dominik Wilde: A low point for you last year was obviously your concussion at Indianapolis. It was something nobody wanted to see. Do you believe it had a big impact on your season?

James Hinchcliffe: Honestly, no. I was so incredibly lucky that I was able to get back into the car so quickly. We qualified on the front row and had a shot to win the race. After the 500 I knew that it wasn’t going to be a problem for the rest of the season.

Dominik Wilde: This year you’ll be driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, after driving for them back in 2009 in Indy Lights this must feel like returning home in a way, does it?

James Hinchcliffe: Absolutely. There are a lot of the same people still working there that have moved up to the Indycar team as well. Given that, it was very easy to get back into the swing of things there.

Dominik Wilde: Over the past three seasons your predecessor at SPM Simon Pagenaud has proved that SPM has what it takes to win races and be up there with the big guns. Many expect this to continue next year, but do you think you can go one better and claim the championship for SPM?

James Hinchcliffe: For sure that’s the goal. This team has done an incredible job the last three years and they want to keep growing. It might not happen over night - a lot has changed with Ben (Brentzman - Race Engineer) and Rob (Edwards - Team Manager) leaving - but I think that we can really be as competitive as anyone.

Dominik Wilde: Although he’s not been confirmed for 2015, it was initially expected that Mikhail Aleshin will partner you at SPM next year. What do you think of the young Russian?

James Hinchcliffe: Unfortunately I don’t think that is the case. He did a great job and I think his second year would’ve been even better. Continuity is great in a race team, so it’s really too bad we can’t keep that element the same.

Dominik Wilde: Next year we’ll see the introduction of aero kits to the IndyCar series, how much of an impact do you think these will have?

James Hinchcliffe: I think it’ll have a big impact. I think we are going to see very different looking cars, faster speeds and hopefully still good racing. But no doubt, this is going to be a season of change.

Dominik Wilde: IndyCar will also return to Toronto next year but will only have one race. With it being the only event in your home country, what are your thoughts on the event being only one race now instead of a double header?

James Hinchcliffe: Well, it was only one race for the first 27 years, so I think it’ll be okay! I know the fans loved the double header format, but in Toronto they have loved the race since it started, regardless of the format.

Dominik Wilde: We’re already well into the off season and there’s still a long way to go. How does a driver cope with such a long time between races?

James Hinchcliffe: There is always something to do in the life of a driver! Testing, media events, sponsor appearances, other racing. We do all sorts of things! Obviously lots of training trying to stay fit and sharp and ready to get back into the car.

All images - IndyCar Media

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