IndyCar – McLaren SP ensures the continuity of Pato O’Ward for three more years

IndyCar – McLaren SP ensures the continuity of Pato O’Ward for three more years

Formalizing a fact that was already the talk of the paddock for a little over a month, Arrow McLaren SP has used the dates prior to the Indianapolis 500 to confirm Patricio’s contract renewal ‘Duck’ O’Ward, which will continue to be linked to Anglo-American training in the immediate future. The Mexican rider, who at the age of 23 has just turned 23, is in his third season with the team, thus achieving the much-desired stability to be able to focus on his goal of win the IndyCar Series without losing sight of the possibility of competing in Formula 1.

To date, his contract ran until 2024, but his salary scale remained at rookie or emerging driver levels. The extension announced this Friday not only extends the duration of the contract for another year, which now covers until the year 2025but that the economic amounts that O’Ward will receive will be more in line with his results, after having finished his two seasons with McLaren SP in the fourth and third position overallrespectively.

In mid-March, the idyllic relationship between driver and team seemed to suddenly go awry when O’Ward commented in public that he did not know what his future would be in 2023. At that time, there were two open fronts: Formula 1 and offers from other teams in IndyCar, especially Chip Ganassi Racing, which considerably improved their emoluments. O’Ward he made no effort to hide his excitement after his test behind the wheel of a McLaren F1 in Abu Dhabi, and was confident of being able to expand that role in 2022, although not under the conditions it had at the time.

In turn, the relative frequency of errors in strategies and stops in the pits had led to frustrated public statements by the man from Monterrey. In these circumstances, the agreement was reached that placed Colton Herta, one of his main opponents in IndyCar, as a McLaren test driver in Formula 1. Although the relative coincidence of both information invited to think of a competitive ‘attack of jealousy’ for the opportunity granted to Herta, the newspaper IndyStar reported that that deal was also offered to O’Ward on the same terms. Despite this, the Mexican pilot postponed signing it while the negotiations to renew continued.

Zak Brown ended up withdrawing the offer, amid a significant performance slump for its Mexican star, who barely cracked the top 10 in the first two events of the year in St. Petersburg and Texas. Not in vain, the chief executive of McLaren Racing, who assured in the statement that “Pato is an important part of the future of McLaren in IndyCar”, acknowledged a few weeks ago that “the approaches of other teams have advanced the conversations what we wanted to have. Normally we want them to happen later in the year to keep the focus on the competition.”

Read:  Dacia Duster 2024, light is shed on the new generation of the popular cheap SUV

In turn, a clause in the contract that was signed in October 2019 indicated that McLaren SP had a 75% right of first refusal on any offer O’Ward received. Eventually, both parties ended up finding common ground, and several media outlets reported in mid-April that an agreement in principle had been reached for the renewal, which has been confirmed today. With this, McLaren binds one of its great present and future talents, at a decisive moment in which Several suitors opt for a second World Cup seat that Daniel Ricciardo might have to vacate in 2023.

“Uncle, don’t make me have to listen to other teams’ offers to get what I deserve here», commented O’Ward, when the renewal agreement was already vox populi. “It’s like your girlfriend encouraging you to pick up other girls to see what other things you can have. I don’t want to do that, and we shouldn’t have. We simply should have come to an agreement that both parties were happy with, go ahead and start winning. But it wasn’t happening, and i guess i had no choice».

Their recent results invite us to think that that stability is paying off. O’Ward finished fifth at the Long Beach Grand Prix, took victory at the Alabama Grand Prix and went on to lead the Indianapolis Grand Prix before his strategy in the changeable conditions backfired. This Sunday, the driver of car #5 will start from seventh position on the grid, the same position it occupies in the championship, aiming for a big result in this double scoring event (if not victory) that will put him back in contention for the title. That, and no other, will be the ticket to having the keys to a potential future in other continents.

Photos: IndyCar Media