Renault F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg, who is almost certain to lose his place on the Formula 1 grid in 2020, will not be joining Ed Carpenter Racing next year, despite speculation continuing to mount as recently as last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
With Indy Lights graduate Rinus VeeKay due to be confirmed this week as the full-timer in the #21 ECR-Chevrolet, replacement for the departing Spencer Pigot, there had been rumors that soon-to-be F1 exile Hulkenberg was in the running as road and street course driver for the #20 ECR seat.
However, speaking to Motorsport.com, Carpenter refrained from comment on VeeKay but did confirm that (a) he would remain IndyCar’s only owner-driver by continuing to race on ovals in the #20 car, and (b) that his road/street course partner would not be Hulkenberg.
“Yes, I will be continuing as oval driver in the #20 Chevy next season,” said the three-time Indy 500 polesitter. “It’s amazing: every year someone starts a rumor or predicts that I’m retiring, but that’s absolutely not the case.
“Maybe we’ll have the other #20 driver confirmed just before Thanksgiving, but most likely it will be the week after. But no, it’s not Nico Hulkenberg.
“Those rumors had gotten a little out of control, to be honest – even though neither of us said anything!
“To be honest, I did speak with Nico a couple of times, and I think he was intrigued by the prospect of coming to IndyCar, but I just don’t think the timing was right for him.
“I don’t think he would come over if he was just filling time, waiting to maybe get back into Formula 1 in 2021. I think he would evaluate it more and decide whether he really wanted to make a change and then commit to IndyCar for longer. And I don’t think he’s there yet.”
Carpenter said his ‘co-driver’ in the #20 ECR car – a post filled by Ed Jones last season – had been decided but that both parties were “just trying to get the details finalized.” He also said he was hopeful that the Scuderia Corsa co-entrant partnership, initiated just this year, will continue into 2020.
“We haven’t completed that deal yet,” said Carpenter, “but that was mainly because I’ve been focused on trying to get some other pieces in place so we can figure out how it will work. I think both ourselves and Scuderia Corsa have the intention of moving forward together.”
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