Formula One's Woking-based outfit McLaren have confirmed IndyCar front-runner Pato O'Ward as their reserve driver for the 2024 Formula One Championship season.
McLaren have recently announced that Le Mans 24 Hours winner Ryo Hirakawa will join the team as reserve driver for 2024, and they have now confirmed that their pool of F1 reserve drivers will be extended by Pato O’Ward. The Mexican driver currently competes in IndyCar for the Arrow McLaren outfit.
The 24-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico started racing at age six and has been part of the McLaren Racing family since 2020 when he joined Arrow McLaren. Over the past years, O'Ward has taken part in several MCL35M Driver Development tests, as well as driving in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Young Drivers test and in Free Practice 1 at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The new role will see O'Ward participate in free practice 1 and the post-season test at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as part of his progression within the McLaren Driver Development programme.
Commenting on his announcment, Team Principal Andrea Stella said: “The McLaren Formula 1 Team are pleased to welcome Pato O’Ward to our pool of reserve drivers for the 2024 season.
"Pato had an impressive season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and has performed well in his Driver Development tests, so it felt natural to take this next step now he’s eligible for an FIA Super License. With the expansive calendar, it’s prudent to ensure we have a wide pool of drivers that we can call upon if required. We look forward to seeing him progress in this new role.”
Speaking of the announcement, O’Ward added: “Pumped to take on this new role within the McLaren Racing family. I’ve spent a lot of time with the F1 team having driven previously in free practice and taken part in a few tests.
"I’ve always said it's never a bad day when you get to jump into an F1 car, so I look forward to joining the reserve driver pool for next year alongside my driving duties with Arrow McLaren. Thank you to Andrea and Zak for this great opportunity.”