O’Ward and Askew get McLaren IndyCar drives


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McLaren has confirmed Mexican Patricio O’Ward and American Oliver Askew as its two drivers for the 2019 IndyCar season.

O’Ward and Askew are the past two champions of IndyCar’s junior series Indy Lights. O’Ward, who was briefly part of Red Bull’s Junior Team, has started eight IndyCar races while Askew will make his debut in the top series next year.

McLaren has taken over the Schmidt Peterson team which ran James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson full-time last year. Ericsson has already been confirmed as a Ganassi driver for next season.

Mclaren racing director Gil de Ferran described the pair as “two young, homegrown talents”.

“Oliver and Pato represent the new generation of IndyCar drivers. Proven winners and exciting prospects, I have no doubt that they will form an excellent pairing as we take on the 2020 season.

“Both drivers were super-impressive in Indy Lights, racking up 16 wins between them over the last two seasons. We have taken time and care to make a driver selection that we believe is in the best long-term interests of Arrow McLaren SP.”

Oliver Askew, Indy Lights, 2019
Askew succeeded O’Ward as Indy Lights champion
O’Ward originally signed a full-year IndyCar deal with the Harding Steinbrenner team for 2019, but the plan fell through. He made a handful of IndyCar starts for Carlin but failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, as did McLaren’s single-car entry for Fernando Alonso. O’Ward also made appearances in Formula 2 and Japan’s Super Formula championship.

“I’ve had some great opportunities over the last year, but this is by far the greatest thing that could possibly happen for my career,” said O’Ward. “I had a taste of IndyCar earlier this year and cannot wait to represent Arrow McLaren SP in the best way possible for a full season in 2020.”

Askew beat Rinus Van Kalmthout in a close fight to take the Indy Lights title in his debut season, scoring seven wins to his rival’s six.

McLaren has not ruled out running a third car at selected rounds, including the Indianapolis 500, as Schmidt Peterson did last year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “O’Ward and Askew get McLaren IndyCar drives”

  1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    30th October 2019, 16:43

    I know a lot of people aren’t happy hinch got ditched, but I am glad O’ward has got a seat that might be okay-ish and I hope he does well

  2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    30th October 2019, 16:59

    Don’t understand why they have dropped Hinch, a solid driver with lots of team leader experience with SPM.
    I hope he didn’t burn his Honda bridges chasing the McLaren drive as he seemed to have a great relationship with them prior to that.

    I don’t follow Indy lights but it seems Askew has had some great results so cant begrudge him the drive, same with Pato, who I was surprised was overshadowed by Colton Herta last year.

    If they are set on two rookies they could regret passing up Rinus Van Kalmthout though

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      30th October 2019, 17:02

      Guess Pato isn’t a rookie now though durr

  3. First I wanted to post a sarcastic comment that they ate going to obliterate the field next year…
    … but then realized it is more than plausible, considering the quality of this series.

    Good luck to them!

    P.S. Don’t forget the steering wheels!

    1. You obviously have no idea of the depth and quality of the field in IndyCar. Chilton, Ericsson, Alosno / McLaren… have all found out. Try watching sometime.

  4. Where is Hinchcliffe going?

  5. Wow, even here the Hinch supporters have come out. The fact is he is a middle of the road driver that has more notoriety than talent. Hopefully he can get enough money together to run a car at Rahal or Coyne.

  6. Like him or not there going to miss Hinchcliffs experience setting up and running a car. Two rookies is a recipe for disaster which McLaren in indy seem fond of.

    1. I’d guess money was also a consideration. If they feel they are now starting to build up to somewhere they want to be in a few years, then it might make more sense to team up with fresh drivers who can build the team with them over that period

  7. Last season was my first watching Indycar, and I didn’t get why people were so upset at Hinch getting kicked, so I looked it up. He’s never finished higher than 8th over a season. Come on. In a series where the driver can have a bigger influence on the finishing position (ofc being with the better teams is easier, but it’s not everything), with the way people are talking about him, I expected like at least a 3rd place in the championship over his career. And he’s a Honda driver, and the team is switching to Chevy. I say give the guy who beat Herta to the title in 2018 IndyLights, & the 2019 IndyLights champ a go. Brave to go without an experienced head, but it’s not a totally new team, these guys know what they’re doing.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! I don’t really understand all the hype and fascination around Hinch, he seems to be rather overrated.

      So yeah, it sucks for him, but I’m more excited to see what O’Ward and Askew can do, because they both have shown so much potential.

  8. So I assume if Alonso returns he will be in Askew’s seats for the Indy 500…unless they run a 3rd car.

  9. Both exciting young prospects, but I can’t help thinking they’re going to miss the experience of Hinchcliffe setting up the car and getting solid points all year – maybe taking the odd win. Wasn’t the lack of experience the main issue with McLaren’s failed Indy 500 bid? Haas had a great debut year thanks in part to Grosjean’s experience.

  10. Pato, yes, of course. A solid hand. But to go for youth in both cars, I see them shooting themselves in the foot. They now have two “kids” in cars, some of the time on tracks they’ve never raced in anger before. The team may have data from previous seasons, but it’s the butt in the seat that has to feel how it is on raceday. I wouldv’e kept Hinch or gone for someone else with experience.
    I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, but I doubt I will be.

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