A first outing in Formula 1 machinery is looming for Pato O’Ward, and the Mexican racer is pumped for the opportunity.
O’Ward, who competes for the Arrow McLaren SP team in the IndyCar series, struck a deal with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown which meant once O’Ward had tasted victory in IndyCar, he would be rewarded with the chance to drive a Formula 1 car.
O’Ward held up his end of the bargain, winning twice for Arrow McLaren SP in 2021 on his way to P3 in the final standings.
And McLaren delivered on their part too, confirming O’Ward for the post-season Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.
It will without doubt be one of the biggest opportunities of O’Ward’s fledgling career in front of the watchful eyes of the Formula 1 paddock, and the excitement is building.
He might need a second session. 😅
— Arrow McLaren SP (@ArrowMcLarenSP) November 9, 2021
“I’m pumped. I’m really looking forward to just seeing how everything works. It will be different from what I’m used to in an Indy car,” he told the McLaren website.
“The feel, the grip, the power, the way the car needs to be driven because of all the downforce it produces.
“I’m sure it will be different – different ways of extracting lap time – but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m really excited about learning something new and trying to just feel it out in a way. It will amplify my knowledge of cars.
“It will be an experience I can put in the memory bank and I can use the things I learn to become a better driver.”
There are a whole range of different racing experiences O’Ward wants to encounter during his test, including standings starts, pit-stops and the feel of the Pirelli tyres.
Then by the end of the day, he hopes to have pushed the car towards its limits.
“I want to see a progression from the start of the day to the end of the day,” he said of his goals for the test.
“I want to have a good understanding of what a stint is like with the tyres, what pit-stops are like and certain procedures.
“Standing starts, for example, are completely new to me. But just in terms of driving, I want to feel like I really pushed the car, like I reached some of its limits.”