22-year-old Pato O’Ward is a name on the lips of many Motorsport followers on both sides of the Atlantic heading into 2022.
While the Mexican remains in IndyCar with Arrow McLaren SP this year, a test with the McLaren F1 team at the end of last year (because he won a bet where Brown offered the opportunity if he scored a victory in a IndyCar race) suggests an opportunity in Formula One could come at some point.
O’Ward has been one of the most impressive young guns in IndyCar over the last couple of years, finishing 4th overall in 2020.
He backed that up last year as he placed P3 in the standings; he scored his first win at Texas Motor Speedway, followed by another later in the campaign at Detroit.
Speaking on IndyCar media day to MotorLat.com and other selected media, O’Ward praised McLaren for the welcome he received on the F1 side and has learned a lot from it.
“I mean, they’ve been so welcoming," he said.
"Man, it was such a cool experience in Abu Dhabi and just all the preparation that I had before then, it was definitely just something very new. But I think it’s just going to make me better in every way, and definitely trying to learn as much as I can from that side and try and bring stuff over here to try and just boost everything up because I feel like the little bits and pieces we can get from here and there are just going to help our performance and make us all better.”
On the experience of driving the McLaren in Abu Dhabi, O’Ward expressed his joy of getting the opportunity to test an F1 car.
“Oh, man, it was so cool. You can tell that those cars are literally designed to go as fast as possible, within regulations, but it’s designed to be as quick as possible.
"I think last year’s car was pretty much the fastest Formula 1 spec ever for a very long time. That was pretty cool that I got to test that and drive that. I can assure you it was ridiculously fast. Yeah, really cool feeling inside of the car.”
The Mexican also made it clear that the ultimate goal for him is to drive in Formula One at some stage down the track, despite having more chances to win in IndyCar on paper.
“For sure, yeah. That is definitely — I mean, my dream to be a race car driver started with that, so I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.”