McLaren CEO Zak Brown has not ruled out Patricio O’Ward joining their Formula 1 team, but wants him to stay “very focused” on IndyCar.
O’Ward has bagged himself a post-season test drive inside the MCL35M in Abu Dhabi after winning a bet with Brown. The bet being O’Ward needing to win an IndyCar race with Arrow McLaren this season to earn the test opportunity, something he ended up managing twice.
The former Red Bull junior driver has been at McLaren HQ in the past week for his seat fit in preparation for his test session, stirring up interest once again in O’Ward becoming a McLaren F1 driver in future.
While Brown refused to rule it out completely, all the attention at the moment is on how he performs in Abu Dhabi first.
— Pato O'Ward (@PatricioOWard) October 14, 2021
“We’ll see after he drives the car in Abu Dhabi,” Brown said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“He is focused on IndyCar and I want him to stay very focused on that.
“Obviously drivers always have an aspiration to drive in Formula 1, but I think we have to see how it goes in Abu Dhabi.”
“We also have to see how things develop in IndyCar and we also have to see how things develop in Formula 1 to see if there would even be an opportunity in the future. I think it’s important.
“We all focus on the job in hand and don’t get into thinking about what could be and what couldn’t be.
“As I told him, the best way to get to Formula 1 is to do what Villeneuve or Montoya did in the IndyCar championship [be champion]. Then we’ll see what happens.”
There were some rumours that we could see O’Ward in a McLaren F1 car as early as the Mexico Grand Prix in FP1, but Brown has categorically said ‘no’ to those reports.
“We would never do it,” he said.
“We wouldn’t put a driver in free practice because, firstly, it compromises the weekend without a purpose. It would be news in Mexico, great publicity, but we will always make sure we lead with what is optimum performance, and putting a driver in either car (Daniel’s or Lando’s) would have an effect.
“But we are in the middle of a big battle for third in the championship with Ferrari and we won’t do anything to compromise that battle, that’s for sure.”