Pato O’Ward is planning to put his full focus into IndyCar during the upcoming race season, pushing his F1 interest aside until the season has concluded in September.
Driving for McLaren the past three seasons in IndyCar has given the Mexican driver a unique opportunity to take steps to cross over into the F1 world.
After winning a few bets with McLaren CEO Zak Brown based on his driving performance, O’Ward has been afforded a couple tests in a current McLaren F1 car as well as an outing in FP1 near the end of last season.
Each of those drives have come late in the year, after the conclusion of the IndyCar season. In that way, he was able to make sure that he remained fully focused on his championship ambitions stateside.
Without a full-time F1 drive on the cards for at least the near future, the 23-year-old is planning to keep his driving in the two series as separate as he can so as not to compromise his efforts in either one.
“Yeah, all the F1 stuff is more of an off-season project,” said O’Ward. “My focus and all my attention will be in IndyCar for the next good amount of months.
“But obviously it’s been more than enjoyable. It’s been fantastic. A big part of my off-season before going home, it was really focusing on the F1 stuff.
“I’m also excited to go back to IndyCar now because it always feels a little odd when you go from one car to the other. Take a few laps to get back into the sync of things, really feel it out. It will be an off-season kind of thing.
“During the season, the IndyCar schedule is so packed up where you can hurt yourself more trying to fit in some F1 test days there rather than helping yourself. Yeah, this is what the challenge is this year.
“We will put our full focus into our IndyCar season, then I’m sure the F1 stuff will come shortly after.”
The 2023 IndyCar and F1 seasons get underway on the same weekend, with the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place the same day as IndyCar’s opening round from St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5.
The F1 season lasts over two months longer than IndyCar, however, giving O’Ward plenty of time to concentrate on the races near the end of the season and potentially spend more time behind the wheel.