Arrow McLaren SP recently announced a three-year extension with its star driver Pato O’Ward, keeping the young driver on board through the 2025 IndyCar season.
The bulk of the negotiations took place between O’Ward and McLaren CEO Zak Brown, with the latter working to keep his talented driver from being lured in by offers from rival teams.
Now that the deal is official, Brown opened up about just how talented he believes O’Ward is, and how important he is to success within the organization.
“Pato is critical to our future,” said Brown. “I think the drivers are the star of the sport. They’re the quarterback, especially in IndyCar racing. It’s very much a driver’s championship.
“We need to give them a car that’s capable of winning, but without one of the best drivers in the world you’re not going to win in IndyCar.
“I couldn’t be happier, because as you try to build a championship-caliber team, you want to have the best team leader. I think we have that in Taylor. You want to have the best engineers, you want to have the best drivers, the best equipment.
“We’re trying to tick the boxes so we have no excuses other than to go out and do our best and hope we don’t beat ourselves.”
Brown and O’Ward have a good relationship, with the two regularly joking around together and making bets based on milestone achievements.
The latest handshake negotiation is in regards to this year’s Indy 500, in which O’Ward will earn his boss’s Richard Mille watch if he is to win the famous race this Sunday.
Previous bets have already resulted in O’Ward being gifted his own McLaren road car and a test drive in the McLaren MCLM35 F1 car as a result of his first IndyCar wins last season.