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IndyCar "desperately" needs new car says O'Ward

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward says the hybrid engine will offer a variety of challenges for IndyCar teams in 2024 but believes the series needs a new car even more.

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

The new-for-2024 power unit remains equipped with the current 2.2-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine, but will be upgraded with hybrid components that will provide up to an additional 150 horsepower when deployed.

The hybrid engine has been part of IndyCar’s plans since the eve of the 2022 season, with 2.4-litre powerplant the original plan before swerving to the current configuration last December.

However, O’Ward would have rather seen a new chassis brought to the grid for 2024.

Dallara’s IR12 (commonly referred to as the DW12 in honour of its development driver, the late Dan Wheldon) debuted in 2012, with its last significant update happening in 2018 when it was renamed the IR18.

PLUS: The long evolution of Dallara's Indy 500 winner

Speaking to Autosport, the Mexican said: “I'm definitely one of the ones on the new car boat.

“It's annoying that this new era of engine isn't coming with a new car because we desperately need it. We desperately need a new car before we need a new engine, in my opinion.

“But, you know, I don't make the calls. All I can do is drive the cars and help develop it the best that I can and maximise it.

“But I really think that IndyCar is in a position where we got to evolve, and we got to take big step. We can't take baby steps.”

Furthering his stance, O’Ward pointed at the design of the hybrid cars in the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s GTP class, along with Formula 1.

Pato O’Ward, McLaren, at the pit wall

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Pato O’Ward, McLaren, at the pit wall

The 24-year-old was recently announced as a McLaren F1 reserve driver for 2024 and set the second-fastest time in the post-season Abu Dhabi rookie test.

"Look at IMSA with those new LMDh cars, they're bad ass,” said O’Ward. “Their engine turns off halfway through pit lane and you look at them and you see the technology and it's freaking cool.

“You see these F1 cars and everything that goes into 'em, there's not one person that doesn't come here that then says... everybody forgets about the racing and they're just like, 'Holy shit, this is so cool.’

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“If I was the one in charge, my goal would be you want people to be saying, 'Holy shit, have you seen the new Indycars?'

“You don't want people to say, [heavy sigh] 'Have you seen the Indycars?' You want them to be so excited about what's coming and what's getting evolved. You know, it's what it is right now.”

O’Ward is among the short list of IndyCar drivers that have tested the hybrid, doing so at Sebring International Raceway in late September.

Recalling the experience, he said: “It'll be a challenge for next year, definitely.

“I think it'll be a challenge reliability-wise for everyone. I think it'll be a challenge in terms of maximising it.

“And I think the rules are still very unclear of what exactly, or how exactly everything is going to be ruled out and what you can and cannot do.

“So, [we're] waiting for that. But it's going to be a work in progress. It's going to be a learning curve.”

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