O’Ward’s Championship Confidence Returns After Wild Ride To INDYCAR
‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,’ an aphorism from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche could easily be applied to Arrow McLaren SP newcomer Pato O’Ward’s chaotic 2019 season as a race car driver.
“I feel like I grew up mentally a lot this past year. Not a lot of 19 or 20 year-olds go through what I did last year. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and matured mentally a lot going through the different situations, pushing through and not giving up.”
The beginning of O’Ward’s “emotional roller coaster” year began with 30 days in February and March, where the 20-year-old had an NTT INDYCAR SERIES ride, lost that full-season seat before finding a home just before the second race of the season at Circuit of The Americas.
The Mexican driver’s month of May was full of corkscrew turns and unexpected drops, beginning with the honor of being named to the Red Bull Junior Team, a meeting with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway SAFER Barrier and ending with heartbreak on Bump Day for the Indianapolis 500.
For the rest of the year, the 2018 Indy Lights champion traveled the world, bouncing between the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, a last-minute FIA Formula 2 Championship call-up for a doubleheader in Austria and a trio of races in the hotly contested Super Formula season.
The 20-year-old’s thrill ride finally pulled into the station in October, when O’Ward was named the full-time driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
“I want to help the team,” said O’Ward when asked what it meant to have Arrow McLaren SP have the confidence to hire him. “I want to deliver for them because I know they’ve been working extremely hard.”
“It’s not hidden that this sport requires a lot of economic support, and when people are working as hard as they are, it’s really stupid to think that they’re working this hard to finish tenth. We want to win. We don’t really want to set specific objectives, but we want to win races, we want to be challenging for championships, and we want to be a top team. That should be the mindset in every single human soul in this team because if that’s not it, you’re in the wrong business.”
“It definitely fuels me up even more and makes me hungrier to give them what they deserve for putting their trust in me and believing in me.”
O’Ward will make his ninth NTT INDYCAR SERIES start at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg while driving for his third different team. That fact, along with his experience driving three different cars last year, gives him confidence that he will be able to adapt to whatever 2020 season throws at him.
“I think that the experience of jumping from one car to another helps with my adaptability and being able to learn quicker. It’s one of the hardest things that a racing driver will ever have to do. I think that my whole experience last year is only gonna make me stronger.”
Nietzsche also said, “There is no golden way to success. Something may work for your friend, but not for you. You need to learn from your mistakes and trust your gut, to create your own path.”
There is no doubt that after surviving a challenging 2019, O’Ward is well on the way to creating his own path to success in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.