Pato O’Ward had his first Formula 1 experience today taking over from Lando Norris in practice one at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is, of course, the season finale.
O’Ward took control of Norris’ MCL36 for the first hour of free practice at the Yas Marina Circuit, completing twenty-laps and finishing eighteenth ahead of fellow Free Practice One stand-ins Jack Doohan and Felipe Drugovich, who drove for the BWT Alpine F1 Team and Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team.
His time on track was initially delayed after he was ordered to return to the pits on his second outlap, but the Arrow McLaren SP Team driver still got valuable laps in the book. The IndyCar driver finished the session eight tenths behind Daniel Ricciardo, but there was plenty of positives to come out of the session.
“It was a really enjoyable experience today. We got a few curveballs thrown at us, which made things a little bit more challenging and obviously a lot of information that isn’t part of driving the car that I had to digest – but all-in-all I felt it was a successful first FP1.
O’Ward has done multiple tests with the team before, mostly in the 2021 McLaren car and he is hoping that he can get another shot in the car next season in free practice.
“I got a lot of tests done for the team and hope those will be a good help for them for this weekend. For me, every lap I get in the car I think I make progress. so hopefully I get another shot next year and just keep improving.”