Trevor Carlin is a hard man to impress. Through his Carlin Racing junior open-wheel team, the Briton has worked with future four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastien Vettel, seven-time F1 race winner Daniel Ricciardo, and all manner of rising stars who’ve gone onto achieve considerable success.
In the context of those who’ve piloted cars carrying Carlin’s trademark blue livery, it makes the team’s reaction his newest IndyCar signing, reigning Indy Lights series champion Patricio O’Ward (pictured above), and his own thoughts at this early stage, rather remarkable.
“All my guys are just saying, ‘Thanks,’ Carlin told RACER of O’Ward’s 13-race deal in the No. 23 Chevy to drive alongside Max Chilton. “It’s great because when he makes his debut for the team [at Circuit of The Americas], the team improves. Max then, can improve. Because Max can go as fast as anybody; he just needs pushing. So, already we’re seeing a step forward for Max because of our having RC Enerson in the car for testing in the pre-season. And when Patricio’s in the car, things are gonna just keep moving up, so it’s a win-win, really.”
Although O’Ward appears to be an incredibly fast learner, plugging into Carlin Racing’s well-honed driver development system will only help accelerate his growth as a rookie IndyCar driver.
“I know he’s gonna drive exactly as his personality, and that he’s gonna be fast; he’s gonna be the ultimate qualifying king,” he said. “We’ve gotta work on his racing, keep the tires aligned. But we know that, already without him even driving a car. It’s brilliant.
“And we enjoy it, going through the video and the data and stuff like that. All my engineers here have come from the European school of training and helping drivers and learning from drivers — so we’re gonna learn a lot from Patricio and hopefully teach him a lot.”
With O’Ward taking the race weekends in the No. 23 entry that weren’t previously assigned to other drivers, Carlin will have two full-time Chevys on the grid. It also means that at the Indianapolis 500, where Chilton and IndyCar veteran Charlie Kimball are scheduled to drive, Carlin will add a third entry for O’Ward. Having expressed an interest in fielding three full-time cars, Carlin hopes to start down that road after Indy.
“Well, it’s no secret we’re working with RC Enerson and they’ve got sponsors and people interested, and they say they’ve got a guaranteed 2020 budget ready to go, to sign off in July,” he added. “But what they’re looking at is possibly doing some races this year. Probably not Detroit because it’s too soon, but after that we could be in a situation where we could run three cars at a few events.”