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McLaren sign IndyCar race winner Pato O’Ward as reserve driver for 2024

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Mexican Pato O’Ward has earned promotion to McLaren’s reserve driver pool for the 2024 season, dovetailing the role with his driving duties for Arrow McLaren in IndyCar.

O’Ward has steadily been increasing his experience with F1 machinery, taking part in several development tests in the MCL35M (the car used in 2021) as well as driving in the 2021 young driver test in Abu Dhabi and FP1 at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

READ MORE: McLaren sign F1 Academy’s Bianca Bustamante as first female member of Driver Development Programme

After finishing fourth in this year’s IndyCar championship, with seven podiums, he accrued enough points to qualify for a Super Licence that paved the way for him to step up into the reserve role for McLaren.

The 24-year-old, who joined the McLaren Racing family in 2020, will join Le Mans 24 Hours winner Ryo Hirakawa in the papaya team’s reserve pool for 2024. They will be available to step in if regular race drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are unable to drive.

O’Ward will get more car time in Abu Dhabi this year, with the Mexican driving in FP1 on Friday and Tuesday’s post-season test at Yas Island.

“The McLaren Formula 1 team are pleased to welcome Pato O’Ward to our pool of reserve drivers for the 2024 season,” said McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella.

“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 been granted an FIA Super Licence.

READ MORE: Newly-crowned F3 champion Gabriel Bortoleto joins McLaren Driver Development programme

“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.”

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.”

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