Lining up for McLaren in the Abu Dhabi test, Pato O’Ward is using the time to see if F1 is something he “can mesh with” in the future.
A part of McLaren’s IndyCar team, CEO Zak Brown handed O’Ward the test after an incredible second season with the Arrow McLaren SP team.
Promising the Mexican driver a Formula 1 run if he wins a race, O’Ward topped that by winning two. He also finished third in the 2021 IndyCar season.
He was in the car on Tuesday as Formula 1’s post-season began at the Yas Marina circuit, the teams – except Williams – all running mule cars designed to suit the 2022 18inch Pirelli tyres.
But while O’Ward is doing the F1 test, he is already confirmed as a 2022 IndyCar driver.
He is, however, hoping it could potentially be a stepping stone to a Formula 1 future.
📻 “First lap. How was that, Pato?”@PatricioOWard:
“Ahh, this is cool!” pic.twitter.com/eXPk5X0rAa
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) December 14, 2021
“I’m so focused on just taking it all in and seeing if it’s something that I can mesh with in the future,” O’Ward told RACER.
“I feel like that’s going to be different. The way of working around it is different, the cars here are built in-house. In the US, a lot of things are built in-house but a lot of things are what other people have.
“Walking around you can tell how many hours and how many hands go into each part. That’s what makes it something that seems bigger than life.
“Because ever since the dream came about, you see it as unreachable.
“Everyone that’s in the series – I guarantee Lewis (Hamilton) or (Fernando) Alonso would tell you the same – when you’re a kid, and you don’t have anything yet if someone’s going to help you or whatever, it’s out of reach.
“Because it’s something that just seems so bigger than anything you could ever imagine.
“And it is, I mean, man, there’s 750 people working here for two cars. Like, you don’t see that anywhere else. And even IndyCar, that’s such a competitive series and when you see the difference of how each team operates is huge, like huge differences and just two very different types of competing.”
O’Ward would be back with McLaren in IndyCar for the 2022 season, following McLaren’s purchase of 75% ownership stake in Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
McLaren have confirmed Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo for next year’s F1 championship, the duo putting the team P4 in this year’s Constructors’ Championship.
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