Patricio O’Ward will take over Dan Ticktum’s drive in Japan’s Super Formula after the Briton was dropped from the Red Bull young driver program.
Ticktum struggled for results in Japan in search of enough points to secure an FIA Super License and currently sits 15th in the drivers’ championship with a solitary point to his name after three rounds. With Red Bull releasing him from its young driver program, Ticktum also lost his seat with Team Mugen and O’Ward will take over for the rest of the season.
“Well, now I’m going to have to learn some Japanese,” O’Ward told RACER after the end of his first Formula 2 weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix. “And hopefully maybe a couple more F2 events would be nice, to get to know some more Formula 1 tracks and get to know the tire a little bit more and just continue working from there.”
While Red Bull had made it clear it would not provide O’Ward funding to continue to race in IndyCar after he hit difficulties with his backing, the drive in Japan does not require a budget.
“Yeah this one is fully-backed by Red Bull. They just don’t have any interest in America, that’s why IndyCar was very hard, and I guess this Super Formula ride came about. It’s going to be another big challenge but I don’t really think it can get much harder than what I did this weekend. And you get more practice sessions, a proper car, proper tire, so more towards what I’m used to.”
O’Ward — who had been working on trying to make further IndyCar appearances this season — struggled in the F2 feature race at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday but was much more competitive in Sunday’s sprint race, challenging for points before a late safety car.
“It was a huge learning curve. It was like learning how to drive again because everything is so massively different. But I think for a first weekend, to be challenged with so much that this series challenges you with and racing against guys that have been around for four years in the category, I think it was not too bad.
“If we kept getting worse, be worried, but we made massive improvements from race to race and from practice to qualifying; so I think now what’s going to make me better and what’s going to be that little bit extra that I need to be fighting at the front is just going to be seat time.”