Pato O’Ward says his IndyCar career is on pause and he would like to return to the series in future after securing a drive in Japan’s Super Formula.
The 20-year-old had put together a program with Carlin for this IndyCar season, but started to struggle financially following a heavy crash in practice for the Indy 500. Despite having exhausted his budget, O’Ward managed to secure additional appearances with Carlin at Belle Isle and Road America, but the remainder of his season was in doubt until Red Bull opted to drop Dan Ticktum from its young driver program and give its newest recruit Ticktum’s drive in Japan.
“There’s still a window to do some IndyCar, but for now I think it’s a pause,” O’Ward told RACER. “I’m going to miss it, I’d love to go back. Obviously it’s what I grew up with, so if I don’t get to go back soon, hopefully I get to go back in the future and really challenge to win and run up front.
“I’m very excited for Japan. It’s obviously sad to leave the IndyCar community, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t go back. It’s still a huge series that I really respect, and in my opinion one of the most highly competitive series in the world. So I might have some years over here in Europe and maybe in the future I go back and actually challenge for the 500 now!”
Following a brief return to Mexico, O’Ward will head to Japan this week to begin work with Team Mugen, and says he will arrive buoyed by the progress he made on his debut Formula 2 weekend in Austria.
“I know I’m not where I want to be,” he said. “Obviously I like to win and I like to fight at the front, But to be honest, for someone who never raced in GP3, it was literally stone cold, not knowing anything about anything. It’s a bit much to expect that (to fight at the front).
“I leave a lot happier, because Saturday was just terrible and Sunday was a massive step forward and I actually got to race and fight with people. We were in the fight for the points if it wasn’t for the Safety Car, so I think I did very well. I’m proud of the strides of improvement I made with such little time.”