Pato O’Ward believes he can take lessons learned during his Formula 1 test last month and apply them to his upcoming IndyCar campaign.
The Arrow McLaren SP driver took part in the young driver test in Abu Dhabi in December as a reward for his first IndyCar victories last year, and impressed McLaren with his pace. Ahead of his third appearance at the Rolex 24 this weekend, O’Ward believes his recent experiences can help him moving forward into his full-time season.
“Certainly things that I’ve learned in F1, I think I can apply in terms of just being able to adapt and try new things,” O’Ward told RACER. “I think experimenting with different things in IndyCar and increase where I might have weaknesses is something that’s just going to make all of us better.
“Does (driving an F1 car) spoil it? No, because I still have a lot of hunger to first of all win an IndyCar championship, second of all win an Indy 500 – which we were decently close last year. So, we’ll have another go and see what we can do. But in terms of just grip and capabilities, yes, a lot. Over the course of an F1-spec circuit, it’s a solid 12/13 seconds faster; that’s a lot.”
The 22-year-old went into the final round of the 2021 IndyCar season with an outside chance of winning the championship. In turn, he feels he is providing everything McLaren can ask of him at the moment, which is something he hopes will lead to further F1 test opportunities.
“I think I’ve certainly overdelivered in IndyCar with where we’re at, in terms of package currently, and I think we’re just going to get better, so that’s good,” he said. “I think I’ve pretty much done more than I’ve been asked to do, so that’s all I can do and just wait – wait and see where my future takes me! At the end of the day, I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and just hope for another chance to take it for a spin again.”