Pato O’Ward said he lost third place at the Indianapolis 500 because he risked everything trying to catch Helio Castroneves and Alex Palou despite not having a fast enough car.
Castroneves and Palou were trading the lead for a number of laps in the closing stages, with O’Ward sitting strongly in third place watching it all play out after all three had run the same strategy. But when it was time to let it all hang out after the last stops with less than 30 to go, the Arrow McLaren SP driver says he found that his Chevrolet-powered car was slightly lacking compared to the Hondas ahead.
“Man, we just didn’t have the speed,” O’Ward told RACER. “I was really, really pushing in the end to try and get into striking distance but Helio and Alex were just too fast. The Honda-powered cars have been very strong — as they were last year — and we have work to do. We need to do better.
“Right when they let us loose and they gave us full power, I knew they had full power as well and I just didn’t have enough against them.
“Simon (Pagenaud) got us on that last lap; I had a massive moment because I was trying to do everything I could to try and get that little bit of extra speed to try and get a run on one or the other.
“It is what it is — the only thing that matters here in Indy is winning, so we’re a little bummed but we should be proud of what we accomplished today. We ran a really good race, we were fighting towards the front the whole way, we just didn’t have enough to get by them.”
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown was there to see it all unfold and congratulated O’Ward as soon as he climbed of the No. 5 car, but admits it’s tough to miss out after feeling in the mix right up to the final lap, as Juan Pablo Montoya finished ninth and Felix Rosenqvist’s gamble on a late yellow failed.
“Disappointed, because I think Pato had a car to win,” Brown said. “I think we just lacked a little bit of juice there in the final stint. He drove great, the team did a great job in the pits all day, fourth is a great result. Bummer to lose third on the last lap.
“Juan did a great job — he did what he would say he would do. Maybe didn’t feature too much on TV but a P9 is a strong finish, and Felix had his pit speed violation, which he never seemed to quite recover from and then a stall at the end, so a disappointing day there.
“I would say overall a strong race, just a bit disappointing when you think you maybe had a chance at winning.”
Fourth marks McLaren’s best result at the Indy 500 since partnering with Schmidt Peterson, and Brown is encouraged by how competitive the team is both at the Brickyard and in the title race.
“I think by the time we rest and look back on it and you said coming into the weekend would you be happy with that type of result, I think we would have been thrilled. So all the more reason we want to come back next year and try it again.
“Today was a good points day for Pato — that puts him second or third so from that standpoint a very strong day.”