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Who is Patricio O’Ward? The former Red Bull talent leading in America.

4 Mins read
AUSTIN, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 11: Pato O'Ward, driver of the #5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, prepares to drive during NTT IndyCar Testing at Circuit of The Americas on February 11, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

After becoming securing his second win of the year in the IndyCar SeriesPatricio O’Ward currently sits near the top of the standings, with only a matter of points separating him from Spaniard and fellow former Super Formula racer Alex Palou. The Mexican became the first driver to win more than once this season, with seven different winners in the first seven races, including stalwarts of the series in Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves and first-time winners, such as former Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson. Pato has since gained an abundance of plaudits, given his connection to McLaren and his ongoing bet with McLaren F1 Chief Executive Zak Brown, in regard to securing him an F1 test following his first win, many fans on social media are toying with the idea of seeing him take to the pinnacle of motorsport later in his career.

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Despite being 22 years of age, O’Ward has managed to showcase his skills across the world, competing in several different disciplines. Like many young drivers, he began by plowing his trade in a number of junior formulas, making his single-seater debut in 2013, participating in the Pacific Formula F2000Formula Renault 1.6, and Latam Formula 2000 series throughout the year. In the following years, he would come close to a title, with a third-place finish in the NACAM F4 Championship in 2015 and a second-place finish in the Pro Mazda Championship in 2016, with 2017 being the year where he would attain his first championship title, however, it wasn’t in single-seater racing.

Competing as part of the #38 Performance Tech Motorsport in the IMSA SportCar Championship, O’Ward would help to bring a commanding season to a close and secure the top spot in the standings in the Prototype Challenge series, racing against such talent as Robert WickensConor Daly, and Stefan Wilson. This would be the start of a productive couple of years for Pato, with him winning the North American Endurance Cup in 2017, with Performance Tech Motorsport, followed by his biggest win so far in 2018.

2018 would be the year that he managed to secure the top spot in the IndyLights Series the main feeder series in the USA, ending the year on 491 points from 17 races, including nine wins and nine poles across the year. This would be his second year in IndyLights, having competed in 2017 with, Team Pelfrey, however, he would make the move to Andretti Autosport for the 2018 season. It was a back and forth battle between him and the rising star in American motorsport Colton Herta, with O’Ward getting a better start than the current Andretti man Herta, however, the American would claw back points in the midpoint of the season. However, a comprehensive few weekends for O’Ward would help him secure the title, following two wins at Mid-Ohio and a further two in Toronto, seeing him take the top spot by 44 points.

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

These performances would see another chapter opened on O’Wards impressive motorsport CV, a chapter that many drivers would see opened on their route to Formula One, a space on the Red Bull driver academy. In 2019, such connections would get the Mexican another taste of open-wheel racing across the continent in Europe, with MP Motorsport in the Formula 2 Championship, replacing the infamous Mahaveer Raghunathan for the two rounds in Austria. The 2019 F2 field was anything but easy, something that O’Ward would find out, finishing 19th in race one and an improved 14th in race two, however, he wouldn’t make another appearance in the category. Instead, he would turn his hand to Japan, replacing another Red Bull junior driver, Dan Ticktum, in Super Formula, racing for Team Mugen.  

Filling in for rounds four, five, and six at Fuji Speedway, Motegi, and Okayama, Pato would manage to secure the best finish of 6th place at Motegi, however would be replaced himself by Estonian and fellow Red Bull Junior Juri Vips for round seven at Suzuka. This perceived tour de force of the motorsport world was in aid of the, at the time, volatile Red Bull teams in F1, with Toro Rosso at the time using Daniil KvyatAlexander Albon, and Pierre Gasly, due to the lack of super license points throughout the junior program. This was of course the infamous season of the Red Bull seat changes, with Albon and Gasly swapping seats halfway through the season, and the feeling at Red Bull was that potentially one of them wasn’t going to make the team for 2020. However, with the lack of pace in F2 and lack of results in Japan, O’Ward was to be dropped from the program altogether at the back end of 2019.

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Throughout his fragmented time in Europe and Japan, he would also continue in America, making his IndyCar debut in 2018 with one round deal at Sonoma in 2018, followed by a disrupted year racing for Carlin in 2019, making appearances in eight rounds of the championship, with these appearances mainly taking place in the first half of the season. That brings O’Ward to the present, where he is an integral part of the Arrow McLaren SP team in the series, partnering with Swede Felix Rosenqvist for the 2021 season. However, people are starting to wonder about what the future could hold, given his ties with McLaren and the obvious route that this may lead to Formula One.

For now, the Mexican seems content with him stating that “My heart is with IndyCar”, stating that he enjoys the competitive nature of the series. McLaren seem more than happy with the progress he is making too, with Brown giving him the aforementioned Abu Dhabi test at the end of the 2021 season, and current McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo acknowledging the talent that O’Ward has, stating “The level is high, absolutely, there’s no denying that, Are they extremely talented? Absolutely.”

It is unknown what the future will hold for Pato O’Ward, however, only being 21, the future is very much in his hands.

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