IndyCar's Pato O'Ward handed F1 test with McLaren

Pato O'Ward - Indianapolis 500 Practice
© IndyCar Media

The McLaren F1 team is to give a test opportunity to one of its current IndyCar drivers, with CEO Zak Brown confirming that Patricio O'Ward will get a chance to try out a Formula 1 car during an official test later this year.

O'Ward will be behind the wheel of the MCL35M for this year's post-season young drivers test, which is due to take place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in December.

Brown confirmed that the team was honouring its promise to the 22-year-old Mexican driver to give him a taste of F1 if he won a race in the NTT IndyCar Series for the Arrows McLaren SP squad.

He did just that at the start of May, taking victory in the XPEL 375 race at Texas Motor Speedway over Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal. O'Ward subsequently finished in fourth place in the Indianapolis 500.

"Definitely our success in IndyCar on and off the track has raised our confidence that we can compete in multiple series competitively," Brown told the media this week at the launch of McLaren's Extreme E team.

"O'Ward is going to be testing our Formula 1 car in December so there's lots of synergies," he confirmed.

O'Ward said that it would be "pretty stupid" to pass up the opportunity for an F1 test but made it plain that he was happy where he was in the S open wheel championship.

“My heart is in IndyCar [but] F1 is technically the summit, everyone wants to go there. If the chance ever came, if Zak offered a seat, then I would be pretty stupid to say no.

“That would be a crazy chance. It doesn’t happen often. But now I’m focused on IndyCar, I want to make the most of it," he insisted. “It’s great racing, so competitive. I don’t think there’s anything more difficult for a driver in the world.”

Pato O'Ward - Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit

© IndyCar Media

The former Red Bull junior driver is currently in third place in the IndyCar championship, and this week is in action at Detroit for a doubleheader event. He was third fastest in Friday's practice session which was headed by series veteran Will Power.

McLaren's current driver line-up were happy to see O'Ward get a chance to take over driving duties at the end of the year.

"After 23 races a post-season test is the last thing you want," commented Daniel Ricciardo. "I would love to give someone the chance!

“I’m celebrating!” he added, making it plain that his comments were characteristically tongue in cheek. “I don’t want to do the last test anyway, so I’m looking forward to it."

Lando Norris know he's secure at the team for another two years after recently signing a contract extension that keeps him at McLaren until the end of 2023 on a reported $17 million a year salary.

With nothing to lose from the competition, Norris said it would be fun to see what O'Ward can do.

“I think it would just be exciting to see Pato in a Formula 1 car because he’s quite a character!”

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