Pato O’Ward eyeing a switch to Formula 1 in the future

Pato O’Ward eyeing a switch to Formula 1 in the future

After a successful test in Abu Dhabi, Pato O’Ward is hopeful of making the switch to Formula 1, with a two-year window in mind.

After getting the chance to take the McLaren MCL35M for a spin around the Yas Marina Circuit during his Abu Dhabi test day, IndyCar driver Pato O’Ward is keen to make the transition into Formula 1. However, the 22-year-old believes he likely only has a two-year window in which to accomplish the move.

“To be fairly honest, arguably there’s a maximum of two more years for me to be able to come into the F1 scene,” O’Ward said to Motorsport.com. “There’s not much more time.

“I will do everything I can to make it happen, because it is the top of the top, and my dream and my life, right now, it all started with one dream, and that dream was to make it to Formula 1.

“That dream ambled out to different series, endurance racing and IndyCar racing. But it all started with that one dream. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t want it, because I do.

“I’m going to do absolutely everything I can, and I’m going to push to my absolute maximum to make sure that I leave nothing on the table.

“Because you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to try, because if I don’t, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”

A move into F1 at some stage, particularly with McLaren, isn’t out of the question for the Mexican driver. He is coming off his best season to date in IndyCar winning two races, placing inside the top five on nine occasions and securing third overall in the Drivers’ Championship.

Prior to his Abu Dhabi test, O’Ward also tested for McLaren at their simulator in Woking earlier in the year.

The main determining factor in O’Ward locking down a future F1 drive with McLaren is Daniel Ricciardo. After signing on with the team for the start of the 2021 season, Ricciardo has two years remaining on his contract, taking him to the end of 2023.

After getting off to a slow start, Ricciardo managed to pull some pieces together as the season progressed. Narrowing the gap to teammate Lando Norris and scoring a run of points finishes after the summer break, including his Monza win. However, while the Australian did see improvement in the second half of the year, consistency remained a key issue.

Heading into 2022 with new regulations and a brand new car to play with, Ricciardo will need to keep improving to show he deserves the seat at McLaren. Contracts have been torn up before, as seen with Sergio Perez at Racing Point in 2020, and there is no guarantee of a contract extension past 2023 either.