Pato O’Ward plans on using his outing at the Abu Dhabi young driver test to see if he gets on with Formula 1 machinery and gauge if it’s an avenue to pursue in the future.
A two-time race winner with McLaren’s IndyCar team, O’Ward will receive his first taste of F1 machinery when he climbs into the cockpit on Tuesday at Yas Marina Circuit. The 22-year-old Mexican will drive the current car, while race drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris use a mule car to test 18-inch tires. After months of anticipation for his first outing, O’Ward has only one main goal in mind.
“I’m so focused on just taking it all in and seeing if it’s something that I can mesh with in the future,” O’Ward told RACER. “I feel like that’s going to be different. The way of working around it is different, the cars here are built in-house. In the US, a lot of things are built in-house but a lot of things are what other people have.
“Walking around you can tell how many hours and how many hands go into each part. That’s what makes it something that seems bigger than life. Because ever since the dream came about, you see it as unreachable. Everyone that’s in the series – I guarantee Lewis (Hamilton) or (Fernando) Alonso would tell you the same – when you’re a kid, and you don’t have anything yet if someone’s going to help you or whatever, it’s out of reach. Because it’s something that just seems so bigger than anything you could ever imagine.
“And it is, I mean, man, there’s 750 people working here for two cars. Like, you don’t see that anywhere else. And even IndyCar, that’s such a competitive series and when you see the difference of how each team operates is huge, like huge differences and just two very different types of competing.”
O’Ward will not be the only IndyCar-linked driver taking part in testing this week, with Pietro Fittipaldi standing in for Nikita Mazepin at Haas after the Russian tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.