Pato O’Ward relishing chance for reunion with former rivals in Abu Dhabi

Sam Cooper
Pato O'Ward in the McLaren garage. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Pato O'Ward tests with McLaren in the post-season young driver test. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Pato O’Ward is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces when he takes part in the Abu Dhabi FP1 session for McLaren this weekend.

The Mexican is a member of McLaren’s IndyCar team but has been given chances to drive the team’s F1 car, including a run out in Barcelona in September.

All of this is part of a plan to get the 23-year-old acclimatised to life behind a Formula 1 car with the four-time IndyCar race winner admitting that F1 remains the ultimate goal for him.

Those plans will take a step up this weekend when O’Ward participates in his first F1 session, the Mexican will take the place of Lando Norris in FP1 at the final grand prix weekend of the season.

Having been a member of the McLaren family since 2020, O’Ward said an FP1 session was always a possibility but is not allowing himself to get ahead of himself, stating he will only believe it once he is actually in the seat.

“It was obviously a possibility,” he told PlanetF1. “It was all about how I did in testing and I think I did fairly well so they’re giving me the opportunity.

“I won’t believe it until I’m in the car doing FP1 and once I’ve done that then I can tell you what it’s like.

“I’m just very, very grateful for the opportunity and for everything that Zak [Brown] has been presented in front of me and I’ve definitely taken advantage of it. I really, really enjoy every second that I get to jump into the car.”

With McLaren’s near future sewn up following the arrival of Oscar Piastri, O’Ward said he is not thinking of jumping ship even if it meant a better chance at a full-time seat.

The FP1 run will also be a reunion of sorts with O’Ward sharing the track again with some of the drivers he grew up racing.

“I think it’ll be awesome,” the Mexican said. “There’s a lot of the guys that are on the grid I actually raced when I was a kid, so I don’t think it’ll be much of a shocker.

“McLaren will give me a run plan once we once we get closer to the weekend. They’re looking for help for the weekend, they want the running not to be just useless.

“They want it to be of help for them for qualifying, prep and everything. So I’m looking forward to helping the team out as as well as I can and enjoying it while I’m at it.”

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