Pressure mounts on Daniel Ricciardo as McLaren extends Pato O’Ward deal

Daniel Ricciardo has not delivered the expected results in Formula One, McLaren boss Zak Brown said on Friday after announcing that his IndyCar team had extended its deal with Pato O’Ward, who is seeking a Formula One seat. .

McLaren took care of some business ahead of Sunday’s Indy 500 by extending O’Ward’s contract until the end of 2025 in a deal that will include some F1 testing for the 23-year-old Mexican and a new McLaren sports car as a signature. of bonus

McLaren’s commitment to O’Ward will be a warning to an underperforming Ricciardo, who has posted a points result in six F1 races this season and got off to a nightmarish start to Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix by crashing in the Friday practice.

The Australian is under contract until 2023, but Brown said there are “mechanisms” that could affect negotiations.

“We have both of our drivers under contract, so nothing imminent, but we are starting a testing program with a couple of drivers and Pato will definitely be one of them,” said Brown, who is in Indianapolis, where Arrow McLaren have three cars. in the race on Sunday.

“I don’t want to get into the contract, but there are mechanisms where we are committed to each other and then there are mechanisms where we are not.

“I talked to Daniel about it. We’re not getting the results we hoped for, but we’re both going to keep pushing.”

“I think he showed at Monza that he can win races. We also have to continue to develop our race car. It is not capable of winning races, but we would like to see it further up the grid.”

O’Ward has also shown a winning touch by racking up three wins, four pole positions and nine podium finishes since signing with Arrow McLaren in 2020.

O’Ward, who will start Sunday’s race from seventh on the grid, has set himself a two-year deadline to realize his F1 dream, which coincides nicely with his McLaren contract.

“I think the deadline is there just because of age. Once you’re 25, 26 that window closes a little bit,” said O’Ward, who will take home Brown’s Richard Mille watch as a bonus if he wins the 500. .

“Obviously if the opportunity arises you should take it. The dream of becoming a racing driver came from Formula One, so it’s not something I’m going to give up. It’s part of me.”

“When you want something so much, it’s hard to block it out of your mind. At the end of the day, what is this guy going to do?” [Brown] to love me more is to win more”.

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