During the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, McLaren announced that F1 hopeful Pato O'Ward has signed a new contract with their IndyCar team, Arrow McLaren SP.
The deal promises to keep the Mexican driver – once a Red Bull junior – in IndyCar until at least the end of the 2025 season, and close to the McLaren programme.
O'Ward, 23, has won three times in IndyCar since making his debut in 2020, and is considered a bright star for the future by boss Zak Brown, who was present at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday to watch his driver finish a close second.
But his new deal with Arrow McLaren could end his Formula 1 dream before it has even begun, after the youngster made an honest admission about the timeframe in which he must make the leap.
IndyCar deal could end O'Ward's F1 hopes
Finding his way into an F1 seat has been a long-term aim for O'Ward during his time with McLaren, even if the Mexican has always admitted that the odds are stacked against him.
Speaking to Autosport back in December, O'Ward conceded: "To be fairly honest, arguably there's a maximum two more years for me to be able to come into the F1 scene. There’s not much more time.
"I will do everything I can to make it happen, because it is the top of the top, and my dream and my life, right now, it all started with one dream, and that dream was to make it to Formula 1."
But his new deal with McLaren will see him remain in the United States long beyond that timeframe, with his eyes set on claiming some of IndyCar's biggest prizes.
Announcement comes amid much Riccardo speculation
The news of O'Ward's new IndyCar contract comes amid much speculation regarding the future of McLaren F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian has only placed inside the points once this season, despite younger teammate Lando Norris having scored a podium amongst a list of impressive results.
Brown publicly admitted that, since joining the team from Renault in 2021, Ricciardo has not achieved what he or McLaren had expected. He would go on to add that he hopes "whatever is not clicking at the moment clicks, shortly."
But, speaking to the media in Monaco, Ricciardo made clear that he will stay with the team until the end of the 2023 season, at least.
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Brown excited to see O'Ward take next step
Meanwhile, Brown is pleased to have reached a deal to keep O'Ward as part of the McLaren stable for at least the next three years, even if promotion to the Formula 1 team is now unlikely.
Colton Herta, a former F4 teammate of Norris, appears to be the driver closest to making the switch from IndyCar with F1 tests promised in the future.
"Pato is an important part of McLaren’s future in IndyCar and we are happy that he will be a key part of Arrow McLaren SP for years to come," Brown has said.
"He is an incredibly talented driver who has already shown what he is capable of in IndyCar and I look forward to watching him take the next step in his promising career.”
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