NASCAR Race Weekend Central
Patricio O'Ward
AUSTIN, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 12: Pato O'Ward, driver of the #5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, drives during NTT Indycar Series testing at Circuit of The Americas on February 12, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Patricio O’Ward 2020 IndyCar Season Profile

Patricio O’Ward, commonly known by his nickname Pato, is settling into the full-time NTT IndyCar routine for the first time during the 2020 IndyCar season. The young Mexican driver has proved his skill across multiple disciplines, from Indy Lights to IMSA, and expectations are high as he gets into the IndyCar swing.

2020 Team

No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP (1st year)

2019 Record

Overall points finish of 26th in a partial season of only eight races. Best finish of 8th at Circuit of the Americas.

Changes for 2020

O’Ward will be contesting his first ever full-time IndyCar season with Arrow McLaren SP (rebranded from Schmidt Peterson Motorsport). He moves to Arrow from Carlin, after leaving Carlin prematurely in 2019 to pursue a potential Formula One ride; O’Ward was released from his Super Formula contract after three rounds.

Strengths in 2020

There is very little that Patricio O’Ward can’t do. While only 21, he has won a championship in Indy Lights and in IMSA, and he has taken home one top-3 position after another. He’s an adaptable driver, one who’s capable of rapidly coming to terms with his equipment and producing competitive results.

O’Ward knows what it’s like to compete at many of the IndyCar tracks, and he also knows what it’s like to win there. He has proved that his skill can exceed the threat of competition. It might take a practice crash or two to let O’Ward know what his limits are, but once he finds them, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Challenges in 2020

While Arrow McLaren SP is built on the bones of Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, the team has gone through a pretty significant shake-up that makes SPM’s experience a little unpredictable. Pair that with two inexperienced drivers, and it may prove to be difficult for O’Ward to find his footing this year. 

Robert Wickens, who is serving as an advisor for the team this season, has described O’Ward as a “‘fly by the seat of his pants’ kind of driver, very naturally talented, who can just wring a car’s neck for all it’s worth.” And while that talent is certainly a positive, O’Ward is very likely to struggle when it comes to competing with the more experienced drivers who are able to combine natural talent with decades of practice to understand what to do when talent alone isn’t enough.

2020 Prediction

After both Arrow McLaren SPM cars finished well in the 2020 NTT IndyCar season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, O’Ward will come home with a swath of top-10s but not much more than that this year. He and rookie teammate Oliver Askew have both proved to be brilliant drivers, but ones that still require some refining.

O’Ward will get temptingly close to a podium position, but it will take a further year of hard work before he tastes the champagne. 

The 2020 IndyCar season continues on Saturday, July 4 with the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will air at 12:15 p.m. ET on NBC.

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About Elizabeth Blackstock

Elizabeth Blackstock
Elizabeth Blackstock is lead IndyCar writer for Frontstretch, a freelance journalist, and a novelist. She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing a dual MFA/MA degree at Arcadia University. She is in love with her car, a 2013 Mazda 2.