Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team driver Pato O’Ward will run a combined program in 2024. Adding to his current driver duties with the outfit he will join the McLaren Racing F1 reserve driver pool, the Woking-based squad announced on Thursday.
A busy season awaits Mexican Patricio O’Ward in 2024; alongside his current driver commitments with Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team, he will act as a reserve driver with McLaren Racing F1, the British brand revealed Thursday.
The announcement came days before the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the IndyCar race winner will run Lando Norris’s MCL60 car in free practice one and the post-season testing “as part of his progression within the McLaren Driver Development program,” the squad outlined.
“Pumped to take on this new role within the McLaren Racing family,” said the Monterrey native.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with the F1 team, having driven previously in free practice and taken part in a few tests. I’ve always said it’s never a bad day when you get to jump into an F1 car, so I look forward to joining the reserve driver pool for next year alongside my driving duties with Arrow McLaren. Thank you to Andrea and Zak for this great opportunity.”
In 2023, he finished the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, scoring seven podiums with Arrow McLaren, ending in fourth place in the Driver’s overall standings with 484 points.
Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren Formula 1 Team, commented: “The McLaren Formula 1 Team is pleased to welcome Pato O’Ward to our pool of reserve drivers for the 2024 season.”
“Pato had an impressive season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and has performed well in his Driver Development tests, so it felt natural to take this next step now he is eligible for an FIA Super License.”
“With the expansive calendar, it’s prudent to ensure we have a wide pool of drivers we can call upon if required. We look forward to seeing him progress in this new role.”
Formula 1: Behind the Wheel
Last season, the 24-year-old took over Norris MCL36 in the FP1 session at the Yas Marina circuit under the rookie status.
In 2022, the FIA Sporting Regulations established that all Formula One teams should run rookie drivers – with no more than two race starts in the series, during FP1 on at least two occasions throughout the year.
Between September and October of that season, and as part of McLaren Testing of Previous Cars program, O’Ward drove the MCL35M at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, continuing to work on the development program at the Red Bull Ring Circuit in Spielberg, Austria.
However, his first taste of Formula One machinery came in December of 2021 when he took part in the Young Driver Test staged at Yas Marina Circuit, completing 92 laps.
The opportunity was handed by Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO, in the wake of his maiden IndyCar victory at the Texas Motor Speedway, finishing the championship in third place at age 21.
The result in Texas saw the young star achieve a new career feat, becoming the first Mexican driver since Adrian Fernandez (2004) to win a race in the North American series.
The McLaren Driver Development program features five drivers who work in the simulator and through private tests in old-spec F1 machinery, collecting valuable data for the team.