Brown: O’Ward will be at McLaren “for many more years”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that the team will soon confirm a new longterm deal with its IndyCar ace Pato O’Ward.

Brown: O’Ward will be at McLaren “for many more years”
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Following his first IndyCar win of the season and the third of his career at Barber Motorsports Park last Sunday, O’Ward revealed that he was on the cusp of renewing his contract with the Arrow McLaren SP team.

This followed a couple of months of speculation surrounding the two parties’ future together, as O’Ward had initially been affronted that McLaren will be testing his long-time U.S. open-wheel rival Colton Herta in a Formula 1 car.

However, any potential rift has been bridged, and Brown appeared to confirm what O’Ward said last Sunday – that a new deal is all-but done.

Speaking at Formula 1’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Brown told media, “Our agreement with Pato is imminent. So we’re going to be together for many more years. He did an awesome job in Barber.

“He’s now a McLaren driver and it’s ultimately up to Andreas [Seidl, McLaren F1 team principal] to decide on the Formula 1 side what the opportunities for testing may be.”

Seidl himself said: “As of now, on the F1 side, this year we’re obliged by the regulations to test young drivers two times in free practice. That’s why we have an action process in place for who we actually want to give the chance to, to be in the car for these two practice sessions.

“In order to make this selection, we have the possibility to use the TPC [Testing of Previous Cars] car, to give young guys a chance to show what they can do in a real Formula 1 car and give us some time to prepare them as soon as possible. Hopefully then there’s testing and then we will make up our mind who in the end gets the free practice sessions.

“I just want to be clear again that in terms of driver line-up, we have our driver line-up in place, we have confidence in place. We’re very happy with the driver line-up that we’re having, so [testing other drivers] is more just to fulfill the regulations this year.”

When asked whether Herta and O’Ward are serious options for McLaren on the F1 side, Seidl said: “That’s something we’ll see after the evaluations. I would say it’s very important to give them the chance, the best possible approach to show for themselves, to ask what they can do in a Formula 1 car, and then we’ll take it from there.

“Again, at the moment, there’s awesome opportunities on our side, we’re obviously interested to see who could be, in some years, the next potential driver for McLaren.”

Despite his forthcoming test for McLaren, Herta is due to become a driver for the new Andretti Global team in 2024, should Michael Andretti’s squad get the nod from the FIA and the current F1 teams to join the grand prix grid.

O’Ward has long harbored ambitions to become an F1 driver, and tested a McLaren MCL35M in Abu Dhabi last December.

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