O’Ward may get F1 practice running with McLaren in 2022

O’Ward was handed his first F1 outing with McLaren in post-season testing in Abu Dhabi last month as a prize for claiming his maiden IndyCar win for the Arrow McLaren SP squad in 2021. 

The 22-year-old Mexican impressed on his official F1 debut and ended his day behind the wheel of McLaren’s MCL35M with the fourth-fastest time. 

And McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says that grand prix practice sessions could be on O’Ward’s agenda in 2022 to further evaluate his F1 potential. 

“I think any time you put a driver in your Formula 1 car, you only get so few test days and so few rookie days that you’re only going to put someone in that makes it a meaningful test,” Brown told RACER

“So it was a nice little reward but we would only put him in the car to also understand how capable he is of driving a Formula 1 car.

“He did everything that we wanted him to do and expected him to do. He was extremely fast and brave but that didn’t surprise us. 

“So we were more looking to see how does he adapt? Does he keep it on the island? How’s his feedback? And all of that, for his first run in the Formula 1 car, was very strong.”

F1 teams will all have to run a rookie during a given number of practice sessions during the 2022 season as part of new ruling to create more opportunities for young drivers. 

The mandated rookie running could open the door for O’Ward to get more chances behind the wheel of F1 machinery this year. 

Both the United States and Mexican Grands Prix take place after the conclusion of the 2022 IndyCar season. 

“We have to run two FP1s next year,” Brown explained. “Ultimately it’s up to Andreas [Seidl, McLaren team principal] first and foremost to make a recommendation and take a view. 

“In the two years Andreas and I have been working together, I’ve always agreed with his recommendations and suggestions. 

“We’ll do a full analysis. There’s some more rookie testing to be done so one step at a time, but a very good first step.”

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