Red Bull Junior and IndyCar driver Patricio O’Ward will race with MP Motorsport in FIA Formula 2 at the Red Bull Ring, replacing the race banned Mahaveer Raghunathan.
The Mexican, known for racing with Carlin in the IndyCar series and recently joined the Red Bull Junior programme this year, becomes a surprise appointment from MP as their stand-in driver for the sixth round of the 2019 season.
Raghunathan was handed a race ban after breaching Virtual Safety Car protocol three times in the Feature race at Circuit Paul Ricard, earning himself nine penalty points and exceeding the 12 point limit on a superlicence. The Indian-Dutch driver has caused several incidents and meetings with the stewards over the course of his F2 rookie season.
With Raghunathan unable to compete in Austria, MP needed to appoint their second stand-in driver to join their team this season. F2 veteran Artem Markelov replaced Jordan King at Monaco whilst King competed in the Indy500. Markelov was considered the favourite to return to the series once again and replace the banned Indian driver.
However, MP made a surprise announcement with O’Ward, as documents of the F2 entry list for Austria showed the Mexican’s name alongside the Dutch team. O’Ward will make the jump into an F2 car and in a European racing series for the first time and in front of Red Bull’s home race as he is excited to try his hand at F2 for the first time.
“I’m really excited to come over to Europe to try my hand at Formula 2”, said O’Ward.
“I’m thankful to MP Motorsport and the Red Bull Junior programme for allowing me this opportunity, and the Red-Bull-Ring is a great track for me to get a taste of what Formula 2 racing is like. I can’t wait to get going!”
The Mexican driver is the current IndyLights champion, making the step to IndyCar this year with Carlin, a team who also compete in Formula 2. The talent and speed of O’Ward caught the attention of Red Bull which eventually signed him on as part of their programme for the 2019 season.
MP Motorsport boss Sander Dorsman says O’Ward is one of the brightest stars in North America and is glad to have another driver with IndyCar connections join the team alongside King, who raced in IndyCar in 2018.
“Patricio is one of the brightest young stars on the North American racing scene, and we are really happy to have him with us for the Red-Bull-Ring,” said Dorsman.
“It’s cool to have another driver with IndyCar experience in our team. I’m sure it will serve him just as well as it has with Jordan.”