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McLaren protege reacts to Piastri F1 seat drama

After appearing to lose out to Oscar Piastri for a McLaren drive in 2023, Pato O'Ward believes that the prospect of an F1 seat with the team was all an "illusion".

5 young drivers 13 inch tyre testing day 1
To news overview © Pirelli

Pato O'Ward believes that the prospect of a McLaren F1 seat was all an "illusion" after appearing to lose out to Oscar Piastri for a 2023 drive.

The Mexican driver, who is part of McLaren's IndyCar programme, had been strongly linked with Formula 1 seat in 2023 amid rumours of the Woking squad attempting to drop Daniel Ricciardo for next season.

O'Ward was one of three IndyCar drivers linked to the seat, along with Alex Palou and Colton Herta.

The 2018 Indy Lights Champion had tested for McLaren at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2021, and is strongly linked with the possibility of an FP1 outing during 2022.

However, with Piastri suspected to have already signed for McLaren for 2023 (pending contractual checks against Alpine), O'Ward looks set to remain in IndyCar for next season, something which the Mexican says he was mentally prepared for.

"The truth is that since the beginning of the year I put a stop to it and I stopped thinking about it [a seat in Formula 1], because that idea just gets you excited, that's why everyone wants to leave what they have for that dream," O'Ward told ESPN.

"But I'm a smart man, I'm not stupid and I know how things have been going, but I don't have much to say in that situation and it doesn't help me to have that illusion.

"I love IndyCar, I want it to grow, to go to Mexico, to become a World Champion, I want to help everything to keep growing because it has an immense potential."

O'Ward: Much more to F1 than ability

O'Ward has been part of the Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team since the 2020 season, taking four wins in that time.

His best finish in an IndyCar season was third in 2021, and he finished runner-up in this season's Indy 500.

As things stand in the current campaign, he sits in seventh place in the IndyCar standings and 59 points off the lead with three rounds to go.

O'Ward believes he is competing at a level good enough for Formula 1, but did not expect ability alone to be enough to make the switch from IndyCar.

"It doesn't do me any good to have that illusion," added O'Ward.

"To that extent I feel like I've matured in the aspect that the illusion, it's a very distant illusion.

"Even if I'm driving at a very, very, very high level, which I have been, that's not going to convince them.

"There are many more things and politics, many things that are beyond my control, that I will never be able to control, and so I have to leave it there, because it's no use persisting with the illusion".

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