It was at IndyCar’s season-opening round at Barber Motorsports Park, where O’Ward earned pole position, that Brown made the promise to the young Arrow McLaren SP ace that he could drive a McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 car in the Abu Dhabi F1 test in December.
Brown reiterated that point after O’Ward won the second race in Texas Motor Speedway’s double-header of IndyCar action this weekend:
Asked about the agreement, O’Ward said: “Yes, he’s going to pay up!” and regarding what would be the first thing he’d say to Brown, O’Ward replied: “Where is my F1 test? I want a McLaren!”
As well as scoring the first win for what was formerly the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team since James Hinchcliffe’s triumph at Iowa in 2018, O’Ward scored the McLaren marque’s 29th Indy car win – but the first since Johnny Rutherford won both rounds of a double-header at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1979.
O’Ward said that although he was excited by the opportunity to test an F1 McLaren, he wasn’t angling for a seat in the McLaren-Mercedes squad, that currently comprises Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.
“My heart’s with IndyCar,” said O’Ward who became the series’ first Mexican winner since Adrian Fernandez. “It’s just great racing and it’s so, so competitive.
“I think for a driver there is nothing harder in the world. I think many drivers can agree with me that have come from Formula 1 to IndyCar….
“You know what, Formula 1 is the peak of technology. Everybody wants to go there. If the opportunity ever came by – [if] Zak said ‘There’s a seat open, I want you in my team,’ – I’d be pretty dumb not to take it because it would just be a crazy opportunity. They don’t come often.
“Right now I’m focused on the job that I have in IndyCar. I want to make the best of it.”