Patricio O’Ward is in the frame to become Toro Rosso’s reserve driver this season, following his signing to the Red Bull Junior Team.
Red Bull’s signing of the 20-year-old Carlin Racing IndyCar driver was confirmed on Thursday, with no mention of any team affiliation at this stage. While there has been confusion over O’Ward’s FIA Super License – required to race in Formula 1 – a senior Red Bull team member confirmed their belief that O’Ward has enough points to qualify and as a result told RACER he could be appointed as Toro Rosso reserve driver straight away.
Toro Rosso currently utilizes Red Bull reserve driver Sebastien Buemi as its reserve, with Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon its F1 race line-up.
While RACER understands such a role is likely, O’Ward himself says he has yet to receive confirmation of how his Red Bull position could impact his short-term future.
“It’s a huge opportunity for my career,” O’Ward told RACER. “There’s honestly nothing concrete yet as to what my future may look like, but obviously we’re talking about two of the best series in the world – Formula 1 and I’m in IndyCar right now.
“I’m really privileged to be in the position that I’m in, and I’m just looking forward to what the pieces fall into in the future.
“Like I said, right now there’s nothing concrete so I can’t say ‘I’m leaving’ and I can’t say ‘I’m staying’ because I’d be lying both ways,” O’Ward added. “But I just want to continue doing a really good job in IndyCar; I want to get the results I feel like I deserve. We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work — the Carlin boys have been really, really working hard and trying to finesse everything that we’ve been missing a little bit.
“We’ve all been working hard and we’re all looking forward to this big push. We’re looking for some good races ahead, but as for me in another series or something … I don’t know yet [and] I’d be lying if I told you I knew what I was going to do!”
The 2018 Indy Lights champion is confident he could combine any future Toro Rosso reserve role opportunities with his IndyCar commitments this season: He is set to drive 12 IndyCar races on top of the Indy 500.
“I haven’t got a schedule yet [from Red Bull], but I have some spaces available, for example, in August; I’ve got some spaces in June. July is decently packed, but June and August are pretty open for me to be able to do whatever Red Bull may require me to do — head over there, work with the sim and those kind of things.
“I’m obviously open to helping them in any way I can. We’ll just have to see how it pans out. As of right now I have all the IndyCar stuff and I’m just waiting to see if I’m going to have some additions to my racing calendar.”