James Hinchcliffe paused, cleared his throat, paused, and sighed before answering whether the shock of his arrow McLaren SP discharge in October had subsided.
"I mean, time has passed, but the shock of the situation is still very real," he said in a telephone interview Friday.
The Canadian IndyCar driver was out of work a year before the contract ended and was looking for a motorcycle for the coming season all winter.
Hinchcliffe announced some good news earlier this week after signing a sponsorship deal with US-based technology company Genesys, where he was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 9 and Indianapolis on May 24 500 will contest the GMR Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, said it was nice to receive positive news and impulses from the seven-digit business. His team and Genesys made contact for the first time in November, and Hinchcliffe said an agreement that comes about so quickly is unknown.
"We still pinch ourselves a little, look over the table at dinner every night, like," Man, I still can't believe this happens so quickly, "" he said.
Another question is who Hinchcliffe will compete for. The details of which team he would team up with for the races in May have not yet been fully clarified and details are still being worked out. His team is still trying to find the right fit from a competitive and partner perspective.
One thing that is most likely is that the Canadian won't be driving full-time in 2020. The IndyCar season begins on March 15th with the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.
"I think a full season is realistically not a high probability at this point," said Hinchcliffe. "Only when there is no funding for a full season can you not hire people and buy the equipment needed to be on time for St. Pete."
"It is a sad reality, but at this point it is our reality."
Hinchcliffe said he could not comment on the details of his separation from Arrow McLaren SP, a team he had been separated from in 2015. Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais will lose his job at Dale Coyne Racing next season.
Hinchcliffe took 12th place in the drivers' standings after 17 starts. In the Iowa 300, it finished in the top five and landed eight times in the top ten. The second half of his season was turbulent and some mishaps led to poor results.
Before 2019, he had a victory on the racetrack in the two years before.
Hinchcliffe said his situation in this off-season saw that the story changed three times a day and could be difficult at times.
He maintains daily contact with his close friend Robert Wickens, a man from Guelph, Ontario, who joined Hinchcliffe with Arrow McLaren SP in 2018 before having an accident in Pocono in August and serious injuries, including an injured spinal cord , carried away. Wickens continues to recover, hoping to be able to walk again, and Hinchcliffe said his friend is making further progress.
Preparation for this season was largely the same for Hinchcliffe, and he said he tried to plan as if he was going to do every lap and every race weekend. He said he planned to be in every race with a helmet and suit in case anyone needed him as a submarine.
Trying to stay focused is one of his main priorities. His team's vision is to look ahead and not look back for both this year and 2021.
"Our eyes are very fixed on the future and are the best season we can put together for 2020, not just in the IndyCar series," said Hinchcliffe.
"We have some other very cool opportunities that we're looking into, and hope we can announce some of them in the coming months."