The McLaren F1 Team will assess Pato O’Ward and a potential future move into Formula 1 for the Mexican after the young driver test at the end of the 2021 season.
The Mexican came close to winning the NTT IndyCar Series title in just his second full season with the Arrow McLaren SP outfit, winning twice and only losing out to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou in the final round of the season.
O’Ward will participate in the young drivers test at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in December with McLaren as a reward for winning a race in IndyCar after a bet with CEO Zak Brown.
But Brown’s bet early in 2021 that O’Ward would be given an opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car in the young driver test was won early on with a win at Texas Motor Speedway, and he followed that up with another win around the Streets of Detroit.
And Brown will be amongst those looking at O’Ward when he participates in the test as the team look at the possibility of bringing the twenty-four-year-old into Formula 1 in the future.
“We’ll see after he drives the car in Abu Dhabi,” said Brown to the Dutch branch of Motorsport.com. “Drivers always have the ambition to drive in Formula 1, but I think we have to wait and see how it goes in Abu Dhabi.
“We have to wait and see the developments in IndyCar, but also in F1 to see if there is an opportunity in the future. This is important. We all focus on our task and don’t think about what might or might not happen.
“The best way to get to F1 is to do what [Jacques] Villeneuve and [Juan Pablo] Montoya did in IndyCar, I told him. Then we will see what happens.”
Brown has ruled out the chance of O’Ward participating in a free practice session in 2021, highlighting the Mexican Grand Prix weekend in particular, due to the fact that McLaren are involved in a close battle for third place in the Constructors’ Championship with Scuderia Ferrari.
“We would never do that,” insisted Brown. “We wouldn’t be able to use a driver in free practice because firstly he starts the weekend with no goal.
“It would be news in Mexico and good publicity, but we always want to perform optimally and using another driver would have an effect.
“We are in the middle of a big battle with Ferrari for third place among the constructors. We are not going to do anything that could stand in the way of that fight, that much is certain.”