Ward’s AMSP move one of several key IndyCar engineer changes

Gavin Ward, formerly Josef Newgarden’s race engineer at Team Penske, has joined Arrow McLaren SP, one of several changes among three of the four biggest teams in IndyCar.

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Ward, formerly a Red Bull Racing engineer in Formula 1, replaced Brian Campe on Newgarden’s Penske-Chevrolet in 2018, and therefore played a major role in 13 race wins and a series championship for the 30-year-old Tennessean.

It’s believed that Ward will take an ‘overseeing’ role at Arrow McLaren SP, while Craig Hampson, the squad’s R&D engineer (and Indy 500 race engineer for Fernando Alonso in 2020 and Juan Pablo Montoya in ’21) will become Felix Rosenqvist’s race engineer in the #7 car.

Rosenqvist struggled to match teammate Pato O’Ward on road and street courses for the first two-thirds of the 2021 season, as Arrow McLaren SP runs a very front-end heavy setup, which works well for O’Ward and far less so for Rosenqvist.

Speaking after his McLaren F1 test in Abu Dhabi, O’Ward explained to Motorsport.com the challenges of driving an IndyCar: “Yeah, because the thing is a tank, it weighs a horrendous amount and you need it to be so oversteery to go quick. Sadly that’s not very good on tire life and you have to pay for that in the races sometimes depending on what you have in qualifying.

“After you drive an F1 car, it’s just so different. It’s meant to go where you want it to go. An IndyCar has a lot more limitations.”

After race engineer Blair Perschbacher and Hampson tailored the #7 car’s setups more specifically for Rosenqvist, there was a notable upturn in the Swede’s pace in the season’s final third, and it is hoped that Hampson can continue to take him down this path. Meanwhile, Perschbacher stays with the team, likely ready to engineer the team’s third entry, which the team is hoping to introduce for several races this year before going fulltime in 2023. Perschbacher is renowned for getting the best out of IndyCar rookies and sophomores.

Motorsport.com sources say Ward’s place on Newgarden’s car will be taken by a former Pratt & Miller / Chevrolet engineer, after plans to lure Ed Carpenter Racing’s Matt Barnes fell through. However, neither Newgarden nor team president Tim Cindric would reveal the identity of the new engineer on the #2 Penske-Chevrolet.

With Penske downsizing from four IndyCar entries to three for 2022, Simon Pagenaud’s longtime engineer Ben Bretzman has moved to Scott McLaughlin’s #3 car for 2022, while McLaughlin’s former engineer Jonathan Diuguid has switched back to sportscars, as Penske prepares its Porsche LMDh program.

Pagenaud, now at Meyer Shank Racing alongside his former Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, will be engineered by Garrett Mothersead, who has moved across from Andretti Autosport, with whom MSR has a technical relationship. Mothersead ran Takuma Sato to Indy 500 glory in 2017, and last year worked with James Hinchcliffe on the #29 AA-Honda. That entry, to be raced by rookie Devlin DeFrancesco in 2022, will be engineered by Andy Listes.

While Jeremy Milless and Nathan O’Rourke remain with Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta respectively, Olivier Boisson has arrived with Romain Grosjean as they replace Ray Gosselin and Ryan Hunter-Reay respectively.

Despite his 12-year partnership with Hunter-Reay coming to a close as the 2012 champion and 2014 Indy winner departed the team, one of Gosselin’s options had been to remain with the squad. He had been part of Michael Andretti’s plans in Formula 1, had his attempt to take charge of the Alfa Romeo/Sauber team worked out.

Instead, Gosselin has been installed in a new position as VP of racing at Ilmor Engineering, as partner Chevrolet attempts to beat Honda to the manufacturers’ crown for the first time since 2017, while also gaining an edge with the 2.4-liter hybrid-equipped engines that should begin testing this spring.

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