O’Ward Ready to Fight for the Championship

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Pato O’Ward left no doubt about his plans for the 2021 Indycar season.

“We want to win races. We want to be consistently fighting for podiums, and we want to be there. We want to be contenders every single race weekend.I think in doing so, that’ll put us in a position at the end of the year to fight for the championship. That is the goal. I want to get to Long Beach having a possibility to win the championship,” The Arrow McLaren SP second year driver said on Indycar Content Day yesterday.

O’Ward finished fourth in the season standings in 2020, winning his first career pole at road America. While he has yet to win a race, that will happen this coming season. I have a feeling he will stand on the top step of the podium more than once this year.

O’Ward spent time in the off-season watching his races from 2020, focusing on the races he felt he should have won. His goal this year is to qualify better and to minimize pit errors, which hurt him in a couple of races last season. O’Ward told the media,

“Man, I rewatched every race where we were in contention, both Iowa races, both Gateway races,Road America. Just from things that I learned last year,you qualify up front, you make your life so much easier.Another thing is that pit stops are huge in INDYCAR racing. I lost a lot of my race wins because we didn’t execute in the pits, and that’s huge. I feel like our pace was very, very strong. I think we were very strong in many places that we went to all year.But where we need to push this year, and we may need to make sure if we have a mistake it has to be minimized, is in the pits, and me as a driver just do my job.”

Motivation has never been an issue for O’Ward, but he seems even more determined to succeed this upcoming season.He feels that he and his team are ready to mix it up with the big three of Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti. He does acknowledge it’s a tall order.

“I feel like last year we left a lot of unfinished business. We were close to winning four races, and we didn’t get it done. We didn’t get it done. There were tough pills to swallow,and I felt like that left everyone in the team so hungry. I can see it from the off-season, just how much work has been put into the development of trying to make the cars go faster at the speedway and road courses.Me as a driver, I truly don’t think I’ve ever been fitter, more ready to try and win the thing. I have lots of faith in the team. I have lots of faith in what we can accomplish as a group. It’s going to be ridiculously hard, but it is possible.”

The addition of Juan Pablo Montoya for the Indianapolis 500 should help him as a driver and the team overall, O’Ward believes. He also thinks having gone through a complete Indycar season as ateam and knowing what to expect, will improve their chances of success.

“I think having a year under our belts and the engineers knowing what I like and how I go about things, I think that just helps everyone work better and more efficient. I have lots of faith that all those small guys behind the computer doing all the analysis and the developments of either it can be a road course, street course, superspeedway for drag,aero, whatever it may be, I feel like in this off-season they had a direction and they had more of a clear picture of where they had to work, to work at or see where there was massive improvements to be made.”

The Indianapolis 500 is where O’Ward really wants to improve. Last year the superspeedways were “like driving into a black hole,” he said. He believes the team, with Monotya’s help, will be stronger at the brickyard in 2021.

I am putting O’Ward on my list of title contenders. This is the first of a series on each of the drivers I think has a shot at the Astor Cup in 2021.

O’Ward Leads Laguna Seca Test; Grosjean 3rd Fastest

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Pato O’Ward had the quickest time in Monday’s test at Weather Tech Raceway Monday. The private test The private test session included seven drivers from four teams. It was the first test day in an Indycar for Juan Pablo Montoya, who will drive for Arrow McLaren SP in the Indianapolis 500.

Montoya will be in car number 86 at Indianapolis. The number is a tribute to Peter Revson’s 1971 500 pole winning McLaren.

Romain Grosjean, who recently signed with Dale Coyne Racing with RWR, was third fastest on the day. Grosjean said in an earlier interview that this track was the one he was most looking forward to driving. he had Laguna Seca on a video game when he was younger.

Helio Castroneves also partticipated in the test for Meyer Shank Racing. Castroneves will drive in six races, including the 500, for Meyer Shank Racing.

Indycar’s next official test will at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 8-9 for all entries in the Indianapolis 500. There is no word yet if this test will be open for public viewing.

Results:

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERTEAMENGINEFAST LAPDIFF.TOTAL LAPS
15Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet71.293 83
218Ed JonesDale Coyne Racing With Vasser-SullivanHonda71.529-0.236104
351Romain GrosjeanDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda71.571-0.278109
67Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet71.600-0.30792
560Jack HarveyMeyer-Shank RacingHonda71.688-0.39581
421Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet71.797-0.504104
886Juan MontoyaArrow McLaren SPChevrolet72.219-0.92675
706Helio CastronevesMeyer-Shank RacingHonda72.812-1.51991

Arrow McLaren SP Sports a Different Look for 2021

All photos from Arrow McLaren SP

Arrow McLaren SP revealed their liveris for the number 5 car of Pato O’Ward and the number 7 car of Felix Rosenqvist today. The cars have a bit of a different look and are not similar as they were last year. In 2020 Oliver Askew’s number 7 had blue end plates and the cars were at times difficult to distinguish.

The team presented the cars in a You Tube video this morning on their social media channels.

Rosenqvist (L) and O’Ward (R) comparison. Slide the arrow for a full view of each car.



The numbers on the roll hoop appear a bit sharper on the 2021 car. Last year the numbers were a hard to see at times. I’m glad they kept the abstract look of the digits.

Juan Pablo Montoya will join the team for 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. His car number, sponsor, and livery will be announced closer to May.

O’Ward Fastest in Sebring Test

Pato O’Ward had the fastest time in yesterday’s Indycar test at Sebring, topping 13 other cars in his Arrow McLaren SP machine. Other teams testing included Team Penske, Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, and Ed Carpenter Racing.

O’Ward and Alexander Rossi were the only two cars to post laps under 52 seconds.

New Liveries

While the Arrow McLaren cars used their testing camo livery, the cars of Scott McLaughlin and Alexander Rossi unveiled new paint schemes for 2021. Will Power also had a variation os last year’s scheme on the 12.

Rossi. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar
McLaughlin. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar
Power. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

The times

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERTEAMENGINEQUICK LAPDIFFERENCETOTAL LAPS
15Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet51.790 124
227Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda51.928-0.138122
32Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet52.055-0.265138
426Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda52.061-0.271116
529Oliver AskewAndretti AutosportHonda52.240-0.450109
67Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet52.258-0.46891
739Takuma SatoRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda52.302-0.512139
820Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet52.311-0.521123
915Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda52.356-0.566157
1021Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet52.358-0.56899
1112Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet52.362-0.572145
1222Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeChevrolet52.378-0.588120
1328Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportHonda52.464-0.674106
143Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevrolet52.469-0.679130

O’Ward Stays with Arrow McLaren SP for 2021

Photo: pato O’Ward at World Wide technology Raceway. James Black, Indycar

A day after Arrow Mclaren SP announced that Oliver Askew would not return to the team next season, the team today announced that Pato O’Ward will return for the 2021 NTT Indycar Series season. O’Ward has one pole and a second place finish this year and is currently 5th in the points standings.

The official announcement from the the team:

Pato O’Ward to continue with Arrow McLaren SP in 2021

October 13, 2020

Arrow McLaren SP announced today that Pato O’Ward will continue to race for the team for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, once again piloting the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. 

“I am beyond excited to be racing with Arrow McLaren SP next season to build on what we have accomplished so far this year. Such a great group of people who truly have welcomed me like a second family,” said O’Ward. “Given how much change I have seen in my career to this point, it is invaluable to get the opportunity to put down roots and build on a foundation year over year.” 

O’Ward will continue with the team after a strong showing in his first full season in INDYCAR, currently sitting fifth in the championship standings with one race remaining. The Mexican driver, who is still only 21-years-old, will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in 2021, which he has raced to one pole position, three podiums and nine top 10 finishes in 2020. 

“The entire team and I are thrilled to have Pato back in the car next year,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt. “He has shown incredible form this year and has kept himself in the championship hunt all season long. I think he has the potential to compete at the highest level in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for a long time.”

Arrow McLaren SP’s 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES full driver lineup will be announced in due course. 

The team has one race remaining in the 2020 season, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on October 25. Tune in on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET and follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube at @ArrowMcLarenSP. 

Quick Thoughts- Gateway Race 2

Photo: The race on the pit road exit lane decided the race.

Passing has always been difficult at World wide Technology Raceway, and yesterday was an extreme example of it. When leader Takuma Sato couldn’t lap Ed Carpenter or even get close to him, it set the tome for a very processional race. It was definitely a race that could ahve been helped by a yellow flag or two.

While pit work is very much appreciated, I would rather see races won on the track. The pit crews were on their game this weekend, but on track action is what the series needs to showcase.

Sato showed no signs of an Indy hangover this weekend with a second, a pole, and an eight place finish. He is still fourth in points.

Points for the weekend– Dixon 81, O’Ward 79, Newgarden 69, Sato 67

Congratulations to Rinus VeeKay for his career best fourth place finish Sunday. VeeKay finished sixth on Saturday. He has improved a lot this year after a shaky start at Texas. The rookie is carrying Ed Carpenter Racing this season.

Conor Daly and Carlin is a great pairing. This weekend he earned his third and fourth top tens from his five oval races with the team.

Last year at Gateway vintage cars dropped oil on the track just before qualifying. This year the first responders parade, which was great, also left some fluid on the track. I understand the need for prerace presentations, but Indycar might want to begin the festivities a little earlier to allow for these issues to be resolved.

Was yesterday the last race of 2020 where fans will be allowed? Jay Frye said he is 80-90% certain Mid Ohio will take place, but he said nothing about fans being able to attend.  The Harvest Classic is iffy for fans. and I am stoill skeptical about St. Pete running or running with fans.

The first through fourth finish for Chevy powered cars Sunday was a bit of redemption for their showing at Indianapolis.

I thought Indycar threw the yellow awfully fast when Sato hit the wall. He kept going and maybe should have been black flagged. I don’t think O’Ward would have caught or passed newgarden in any case.

I’m glad that Tony Kanaan had one top ten finish this weekend in what may have been his final Indycar race outside of the Indianapolis 500. He has been a great driver and very popular with the fans. I know many fans who became interestd in Indycar because of him. Sponsorship may prevent him from running more races. If that is the case, I want to say thank you, Tony. You have been a great ambassador for the sport.

Arrow McLaren SP Liveries: A Taste of Mclaren and a Somewhat Retro Look; Carlin Returns

Arrow McLaren SP revealed their liveries for 2020. The number 5 car which Pato O’Ward will drive and the 7 of Oliver Askew have different color front end plates which will help fans tell the cars apart. The gold cockpit surround of last year has been replaced by papaya orange. I really like the number fonts. The majority of number fonts in the NTT Indycar Series have become rather generic, mainly block numbers in various colors. The fonts for this team are dynamic.

The orange and blue accents are a familiar scheme for McLaren, whose founder Bruce McLaren drove cars with these colors.

The design reminds me of Raul Boesel’s Duracell car of the early 90s, and it also has a hint of the MGD Light car. It’s always nice to have a bit of a retro appearance. The highlight of the reveal was when Mike Long said the new 5 year out plan is to get Robert Wickens back in a car. The technology is there and improving.. What an amazing day that will be for Indycar and Wickens.

screenshot_20200207-1309106966983911230427466.png
Oliver Askew’s #7

wp-15810987366212706208247986647057.png
Pato O’Ward’s #5

The aeroscreen seems less intrusive on theses cars than it does on some other entries. I am anxious to get an in person look at all the cars next Tuesday at COTA.

 

Carlin, Chilton Return

Carlin Racing also announce today that Max Chilton will be back in the 59 car with Gallagher sponsorship. Chilton will drive all road and street courses and the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. There was no mention of a second car or whether someone else would drive the other four ovals. Carlin plans to have two cars at Spring Training next week.

 

Spring Training Schedule and Streaming

Spring Training from COTA will be streamed next Tuesday and Wednesday on the Indycar Mobile App and Indycar.com.

The schedule (all times Eastern):

Tuesday

11 am-1 pm

2:30 pm-6:30 pm

Wednesday

10 am- Noon

1 pm-5 pm

I’m will be on site Monday and Tuesday. look for my Spring Training preview this weekend and updates Monday and Tuesday.

 

Sebring Test Concludes Aeroscreen Testing

Photo: Pato O’Ward testing at Sebring today. Thanks to Vincent Anderson for the photo and his comments below:

On seeing the drivers in the cars: “The glove colors will be more important this year. mandatory white or neon gloves?”

He could see the drivers”More than i thought but less than last year. Pato’s white gloves were working the wheel today. his white gloves stood out.”

sebsebring

Sebastien Bourdais tries out the aeroscreen. Photo: Vincent Anderson

 

From Indycar:

Aeroscreen passes its final 2019 test
at Sebring International Raceway

SEBRING, Florida (November 5, 2019) – INDYCAR continued its Aeroscreen development program Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway with Arrow McLaren SP and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan participating in the fourth and final test session of the year.

The conditions for the one-day test could only be described as ideal for testing the safety innovation, with the weather unseasonably hot and humid like the NTT IndyCar Series teams will face through the summer stretch and the track was predictably bumpy in replicating a street course.

Amid all that, the Aeroscreen, scheduled for its race debut at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13-15 in St. Petersburg, Fla., performed as designed once again.

“And we checked boxes with drivers who had not previously experienced the Aeroscreen,” said Bill Pappas, INDYCAR’s vice president of competition and engineering.

Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, Patricio O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP and Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing, who utilized Bourdais’ car in for the session, were the latest group of NTT IndyCar Series drivers to have the opportunity to test the Aeroscreen.

The steamy Florida weather allowed for trying various driver cooling options and further validate the anti-fogging mechanism. Bourdais, who wears glasses, had no visibility issues in his first experience with the Aeroscreen. O’Ward, in his first on-track experience with Arrow McLaren SP, similarly adapted quickly to his new cockpit surroundings. Ferrucci had no issues while driving Bourdais’ car.

Pappas said INDYCAR and its suppliers are on schedule to deliver Aeroscreens to all full-season teams next month as preparation builds for Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The Aeroscreen was announced in May and developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies in conjunction with INDYCAR.

Arrow McLaren SP and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan became the fourth and fifth teams to work with the Aeroscreen. Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport participated in tests last month that were held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park and Richmond Raceway. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and Will Power of Team Penske took part in the test at IMS; Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport and Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske tested at Barber; and Josef Newgarden of Team Penske and Dixon handled Richmond.

These tests were designed to replicate the various conditions competitors will face during the 17-race season. IMS is the largest (2.5 miles) and fastest oval on the schedule while the .75-mile Richmond layout is the shortest of the five oval tracks. Barber Motorsports Park is a permanent road course like INDYCAR will use on seven occasions next year, and there will be five street-course races where Sebring-like bumps must be navigated.

In consultation with drivers, INDYCAR will offer standard cooling options at each venue in order to keep the playing field level.

“These will be areas with specific parts,” Pappas said. “Teams won’t be free to develop their own ductwork.”

Bourdais said the utilization of a helmet duct likely will be the best option for particularly hot days.

“It’s figuring out what’s the best (cooling) option,” he said. “But it’s nothing we can’t work through.

“In races, we drive through clouds of debris, particularly on speedways and superspeedways, so I think this is a massive step (in protection). It’s a much safer place for us IndyCar drivers – I think everyone is pleased with it.”

The drivers said it took very little time to get acclimated to it.

“You can barely tell the screen is there because it’s pretty clear,” O’Ward said. “Obviously, it’s a bit more enclosed, but you see everything you usually see. The eyes kind of look around the halo, so you don’t really notice it. Once you’re pushing, you don’t really see the Aeroscreen.”

Schmidt: “An Opportunity That We Couldn’t Pass Up.”

Sam Schmidt explained why the newly formed Arrow McLaren SP team decided to go with Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew  for 2020 and let James Hinchcliffe go.

“…it’s a gut-wrenching decision, but we were faced with an opportunity to pick up these two young guns coming out of Indy Lights that already have 13, 14, 15 years worth of experience…” Schmidt said.

Hinchcliffe is still under contract, which the team will honor. If Hinchcliffe needs a release to drive for another team, it will be granted. Schmidt has no doubt that he will find a ride somewhere.

Robert Wickens is still part of the team as a consultant and driver coach. The car number 6 is still reserved for him, and Schmidt expects him at the majority of races next season. AMSP still has rights to the numbers 5 and 7, but hasn’t determined which driver will will have which number. No decision has been made on who will drive in next week’s aeroscreen test at Sebring.

The drivers are looking forward to their opportunities.  O’Ward has run eight Indycar races and Askew debuts at St. Petersburg. O’Ward is excited to restart in Indycar with a newly organized team.

IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas

Pato O’Ward at Sonoma in his Indycar debut. Photo: Stephen King, Indycar

“I think we’re going to make a really good  team. We’re both hungry for all the success. I think at his point both the team and we are growing, we’re
starting a new chapter in our careers and I think thesky’s the limit. So we’re going to be pushing, pushing, pushing and I know that with hard work and really
dedicating lots of time and thinking into our future and into our season we should be, we should definitely be up there,” O’Ward said.
askew
Oliver Askew at Indianapolis. Photo from OliverAskew.com
Askew added, “I’m very excited to be partnering with Pato for 2020. I think we both get along very well and we have a very, like you said, a very similar driving background and very similar driving style coming from the Indy Lights car and working with Andretti Auto Sport as well. Our — we have the same drive to be successful, as does the team, and we plan on working very closely with one another to help each other grow and help each other get better in the series.”
The team plans to run a third car at the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 as they have done for the past 12 years. Fernando Alonso “remains an option” but nothing is confirmed.

My Thoughts

AMSP could be an exciting team to watch in 2020. We have an idea of what O’Ward can do, and I’m interested to see how Askew adapts to Indycar.

The team has a lot of PR work to do with the fans. I think they could have handled the Hinchcliffe situation better, but this is a business, and tough personnel decisions happen a lot.

McLaren especially needs to demonstrate that they can run an Indycar team properly after last year’s Indianapolis debacle.

While Schmidt seemed to be the team’s lead spokesman during the teleconference today, I still wonder how much he and Ric Peterson will be involved in 2020 and beyond. I’d feel better if their names were more a part of the the team name and logo.