The Formula 1 test of IndyCar star Patricio O’Ward after the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi seems to be bearing fruit: McLaren may give the Mexican the opportunity to win the British Formula 1 car at selected Grand Prix in the first Control free practice. The 22-year-old convinced McLaren CEO Zak Brown of his talent.
O’Ward starts in the IndyCar series for McLaren-SP and will fight for the title in the US formula series next season after his third place in the 2021 season. The youngster is enthusiastic about the premier class, which is why he believes he will have to make the step into Formula 1 within two years if he wants to get a chance there.
He got the Formula 1 test because of a bet with Brown who rewarded O’Ward for his first IndyCar win in Texas. The McLaren boss also reveals to ‘Racer.com’ that the test was not just about betting, but also about evaluating the Mexican’s potential in a Formula 1 car.
“I think every time you put a driver in a Formula 1 car, there are so few test days and so few rookie days that you can only put someone in to do a meaningful test,” says Brown. “So it was a nice little treat, but we just wanted to put him in the car to see if he would be able to drive a Formula 1 car.”
Brown is more than satisfied with the result, because O’Ward would have been convincing on every level. “He did what we wanted and what we expected,” says the McLaren CEO. “He was very quick and brave, but that didn’t surprise us. We saw how he adapts, how he keeps the car on the track and what his feedback is like.” The conclusion: his first drive in a Formula 1 car was “very strong”.
Test possibilities are massively limited in Formula 1, which is why the teams in the first free practice sessions have the opportunity to put drivers other than the permanent staff in the car. That could be exactly O’Wards chance to recommend himself for the premier class. However, it will not be Brown who will decide, but team boss Andreas Seidl, reveals the McLaren boss. The best options would be the race weekends in Mexico and the USA.
With images from Motorsport Images.