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James Hinchcliffe - Q&A

The IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year reflects on his 2011 and his plans for the off-season, and shares his memories of his friend with "the devious, million dollar smile" - Dan Wheldon.
Fresh from winning the 2011 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year title after finishing in 12th place in the points ahead of JR Hildebrand despite not being confirmed at Newman/Haas until after the season opener, James Hinchcliffe reveals why he thought the time was right to step up to the senior series and where it all went right.

The 24-year-old Canadian also describes his 'espresso' team mate Oriol Servia in three words, and reveals his plans for the post-season - which include a trip to the UK and hopefully a chance to race in the Dan Wheldon Memorial kart race to be held at Milton Keynes next month.

IndyCar 'Rookie of the Year' - What does that title mean to you?

James Hinchcliffe:
It means quite a bit. It was obviously the goal from the start of the year, but from the start we were on the back foot after missing St Pete. The team was super motivated to try and still end up on top, and I think that it says a lot about the effort we put up. It's cool because it's the only title you can only go for one time. The only downside is now some people are calling me Roy Hinchcliffe! I had a lot of fun battling with JR, and I want to congratulate him on a really strong year.

Was it a natural progression for you to move up into the IZOD IndyCar Series? What, if any, were the key differences - other than speed, over your previous racing experiences?

James Hinchcliffe:
The jump up felt right. I think my time in the junior ranks really served me well. For sure the biggest adjustment was the level of competition in the series. If you don't get the absolute maximum out of your self, the car, the tires at all times, you will be left behind. The racing was incredible. The team really helped me prepare well for that. On top of that, I really underestimated the amount of work off track! This being an IndyCar driver really is a full time gig!

You enjoyed season long support from Eric Sprott and Sprott Inc. A Canadian racer with a Canadian partner on the side of the car, describe the benefits to both parties.

James Hinchcliffe:
It was honestly a dream come true. Getting my break in IndyCar with a Canadian sponsor was the perfect scenario. Sprott were an incredible partner because they were new to motorsports but immediately saw the potential our relationship could have. They operate in a fast paced industry and so do we. They have been a large part of our success this year and I personally owe them a huge debt for helping me make this step up. I hope to be involved with Sprott for many years.

Newman/Haas Racing doesn't historically hire rookie drivers. How did your relationship develop over the season and was there any pressure racing for one of motorsports marquee teams?

James Hinchcliffe:
Of course there was pressure! There would have been pressure with any team, but knowing that I was getting the chance to run with a championship winning team added quite a bit. Like you said, they don't often hire rookies and so I really wanted to live up to their expectations and prove that they made the right choice. Their faith in me was huge and that gave me a lot of confidence. We had an instant chemistry and really grew stronger every race weekend. I have a great relationship with every single member on the team, and that means a lot to me.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
James Hinchcliffe (CAN - Newman/Haas Racing) relaxed with his team during the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Thursday, May 12 [Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Canadian local hero James Hinchciffe an unsurprising favourite with the press and media at Edmonton. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe [Picture credit: IndyCar media]
James Hinchcliffe poses for two photographs at the same time at Motegi. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe in the pits during Saturday practice at Motegi. [Picture credit: Brian Simpson for IndyCar Media]
James Hinchcliffe tries to stay warm at a chilly Kentucky Speedway [Photo credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
James Davison
JR Hildebrand, IndyCar, Ed Carpenter Racing
James Hinchcliffe, Long Beach, IndyCar
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [credit: Chris Owens]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [Credit: IndyCar]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [Credit: Jim Haines/IndyCar]
James Hinchcliffe   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Chris Owens]
Oriol Servia in his pit stand following practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe back in the car at Road America - September 29 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe back in the car at Road America - September 29 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia is strapped into his Andretti Autosport Honda prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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