As part of McLaren Racing‘s team-wide launch on Friday that includes Formula One and Extreme E, the organisation’s NTT IndyCar Series side Arrow McLaren SP débuted a pair of Chevrolets with slight differences from their 2021 versions. While Pato O’Ward‘s #5 and Felix Rosenqvist‘s #7 have different primary colours as the former’s car is black and the latter’s is blue to reflect their sponsors, both use the new McLaren shade of papaya orange (called “Fluro Papaya”) and blue (“New Blue”).
O’Ward returns to the #5, sponsored by Arrow Electronics, for a third season. After a strong rookie season in 2020 (McLaren’s first in IndyCar), he broke through with a two-win campaign in 2021 at Texas and Detroit en route to a third-place points finish. At the end of the year, O’Ward joined McLaren’s F1 programme for the Abu Dhabi Young Driver’s Test, where he was the fourth quickest driver. Such a run sparked speculation about potentially moving up to F1 in the future, though at the moment, he is content with vying for the IndyCar championship. While McLaren boss Zak Brown described him as having “what it takes from a raw talent point of view to be a Formula One driver,” he also emphasised that O’Ward’s best shot of making it to F1 would be to win an IndyCar title.
“I am going into my third full season of IndyCar racing this year, coming off a strong run in 2021,” said O’Ward. “Every year, Arrow McLaren SP and I keep raising the bar for ourselves, and I plan it to be no different in 2022. We have another shot at the Indianapolis 500 this year and plan to be in the fight for the championship from the start.
“[…] I don’t have any expectation that this year will be easy. Bring it on and let’s see what we can do. I will be giving it absolutely everything in and out of the car so we can make the best out of 2022.”
Rosenqvist rejoins the blue-based #7 Vuse machine for a second season. His first year with McLaren was a difficult one, missing two races due to injuries sustained in a wreck at Detroit and finishing twenty-first in points with a best finish of sixth at Portland. Prior to McLaren, the Swede spent two seasons at Chip Ganassi Racing and won his maiden series race at Road America in 2020.
“Going into 2022, there is a different side of me that is very driven and ready to get started,” Rosenqvist commented. “I’m definitely looking for some redemption after last year, which is the best motivator. There are plenty of reasons for Arrow McLaren SP to be excited, given where we were last year to where we are now. This team is constantly changing and looking to get better, especially with the integration of McLaren which helps us take steps forward every day.”
The 2022 season begins at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on 27 February.