O'Ward sees two-year window to make F1 switch happen

Pato O’Ward believes he has a “maximum of two years” to move into Formula 1, but will do “everything I can to make it happen” after his first McLaren test.

Patricio O'Ward, McLaren

Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar driver O’Ward took part in the young driver test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday as a reward for scoring his first victory earlier this year, having made a bet with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

O’Ward completed 92 laps in the McLaren MCL35M at the Yas Marina Circuit, and said afterwards that he found the experience “addictive”, surpassing all expectations.

O’Ward previously said that he “would be lying” to say he had not thought about a potential switch from IndyCar to F1 in the future, calling the series “the top of the top”.

Following his test outing in Abu Dhabi, O’Ward said he thought there was only a two-year window for him to look at making the move to F1, but that he was determined to make it happen.

“To be fairly honest, arguably there’s maximum two more years for me to be able to come into the F1 scene,” O’Ward told Autosport in Abu Dhabi.

“There’s not much more time.

“I will do everything I can to make it happen, because it is the top of the top, and my dream and my life, right now, it all started with one dream, and that dream was to make it to Formula 1.

“That dream ambled out to different series, endurance racing and IndyCar racing. But it all started with that one dream. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t want it, because I do.

“I’m going to do absolutely everything I can, and I’m going to push to my absolute maximum to make sure that I leave nothing on the table.

“Because you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to try, because if I don’t, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”

Pato O'Ward, McLaren MCL35M

Pato O'Ward, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While O’Ward said he felt a step closer to make the move after his first F1 test, he acknowledged there were “a lot more steps that have to be taken in order to actually get the seat”.

“But I think it was a very good first step,” he added.

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O’Ward will return to IndyCar in 2022 with the McLaren team after finishing third in this year’s championship, scoring two race wins and finishing fourth at the Indianapolis 500. He is due to race in the Gulf 12 Hours alongside McLaren boss Brown next month, but afterwards will shift full attention back to IndyCar.

“I’ll go back to Indy, start preparing, start the season, and it’s time to win some races,” O’Ward said.

“Time to challenge for another championship, and let’s see if we’ve made our car faster.

“We want to challenge for another title, and we want to have another go at trying to win the 500.”

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