McLaren will take stock of Patricio O'Ward's upcoming F1 test in Abu Dhabi, but the papaya squad says its priority is to see the Mexican continue to perform in IndyCar in the coming years.
O'Ward was promised an F1 test outing by McLaren boss Zak Brown if he won an IndyCar round this year, a challenge duly fulfilled by the 22-year-old at the Texas Motor Speedway back in May.
But the Arrow McLaren SP charger, who finished his 2021 IndyCar campaign third in the championship behind Alex Palou and Josef Newgarden, is expected to continue his development in the US for the foreseeable future.
However, Brown hasn't dismissed the possibility of drafting in O'Ward to compete in F1 if his results fulfil McLaren's expectations.
"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."
Although he's keeping an eye on his IndyCar driver, Brown ruled out offering O'Ward a Friday practice outing in F1, and certainly not this season.
"We would never do it," said the McLaren Racing boss.
"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 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."